Biofuels from Microalgal Biorefineries: Aspiring for Sustainability

“There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance” R. Buckminster Fuller.

Due to the rise of industrialization and extreme exploitation of natural resources like fossil fuels the world now faces a major energy crisis, global climatic change, and environmental pollution. Pakistan is no exception thus if today’s energy crisis is left unresolved, it will cripple the country’s economy which has already been struggling.

Pakistan, being a developing country, has long been under the crushing influence of an energy crisis that has drained its economy. With the rapid increase in its population, the gap between demand and supply has also increased. The status of Pakistan’s demand and supply gap in 2020 was reported to be approximately 2000 MW with the demand growing at around 7% per annual growth rate of utilization. Moreover, recent data indicate that the transport sector of the country is leading in the consumption of energy by 17.40 million tons. This has resulted in a greater dependence on exports. In order to meet its energy demand, there is an urgent need for the country to look for sustainable and renewable energy sources. Today’s energy crisis, if left as it is, will cripple Pakistan’s economy which has already been struggling. Switching to biofuels such as biodiesel, bioethanol, and biogas is one solution.

Why Micro-algae Biorefineries?

Microalgae biorefineries are attractive feedstock for biofuel production. When compared to other organisms, microalgaecan be grown utilizingwaterand atmosphericcarbon dioxide, which lowers manufacturing costs. Additionally, deteriorated land can be used to grow microalgae. High growth rates, effective carbon mitigation by lowering the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and the removal of food sector competition from the biofuel production process are all perks of microalgae. Microalgae contain organic and inorganic compounds as secondary metabolites which are produced by various metabolic pathways within their body. These compounds are the precursors for the commercially important products of microalgae

Microalgal Biorefineries in Pakistan:

Microalgae grow in multiple habitats and produce many important co-products. Luckily Pakistan lies in a unique place where geography, geology, and the environment support biodiversity. Moreover, the rich saline environments and varied water in Pakistan promote a large algal flora. If the existing feedstock resources are utilized responsibly and adaptable policies are created in the right direction, Pakistan has a significant potential to produce biofuels and become self-sufficient in energy.

Hurdles in the way and solutions to tackle:

Despite the enormous potential of Pakistan to utilize microalgal biorefineries, there are certain obstacles in the production of biofuels in Pakistan. Lack of cooperation from the government, an unclear policy on fuels, and Pakistan’s limited access to the fuel market; hinder the adoption of biofuels on a national scale. Moreover, a lack of expertise and funds for research and development, and never-ending political issues have worsened the country’s economy.

Therefore, it is now crucial to promote biofuel production in Pakistan with the aid of local incentives and persuading international partners diplomatically. Infrastructure development, education initiatives, awareness for public, commercialization, and government involvement are some other strategies for ensuring that microalgal biorefineries are utilized in Pakistan.


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