This paper determines the energy consumption ratio and overall bio-energy production costs of microalgae cultivation, harvesting and conversion to secondary energy carriers, thus helping to clarify future perspectives of micro-algae production for energy purposes. A limitation growth model is developed, which determines the productivity of micro-algae for different climate profiles. Total direct and indirect energy consumption ratios for the production of heat, fuels and electricity derived from micro-algae are calculated. Overall direct energy consumption ratio for raceway ponds is 0.06 for the optimal case, indirect energy consumption ratio for that case is 0.74. Direct energy consumption ratio in horizontal tubular systems is 0.32 for the optimal case, indirect energy consumption ratio for that case is 117. The implementation of different improvement options could reduce the indirect energy consumption ratio by fifty percent for both raceway ponds and horizontal tubular systems in the optimistic scenario. Prominent elements of the energy consumption ratios are carbon dioxide supply for raceway ponds and circulation power consumption for horizontal tubular systems. The lower end of fuel production cost calculated for raceway ponds is 136 €2010/GJ and 153 €2010/GJ for horizontal tubular systems (non-renewable gasoline and diesel is about 5–20 €/GJ). Considering possible improvement options overall bio-energy production costs could be reduced by one-fourth. Current results suggest that micro-algae cultivation is not suitable for dedicated bio-energy production in considered cultivation, harvesting and conversion options. Coproduction of bio-energy with high-value products are more viable, but is not considered in this research. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
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