will be possible only if thorough assessments of each step in the various pathways for algal biofuel production are conducted.
Given the four aspects of sustainability and the multiple goals within each aspect, a participatory approach is necessary to develop a collective vision of the importance of various sustainability objectives relative to each other. An approach that involves different stakeholders (for example, algal biofuel producers, fuel consumers, environmental groups, and residents near areas to be developed for algae cultivation or biofuel refinery) from the beginning of a sustainability assessment would help ensure that trade-offs among sustainability goals would be acceptable to the various parties.
This report identified EROI; GHG emissions; water use; supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide; and appropriate land resources as potential sustainability concerns of high importance. The committee does not consider any one of these sustainability concerns a definitive barrier to sustainable development of algal biofuels because mitigation strategies for each of those concerns have been proposed and are being developed. However, all of the key sustainability concerns have to be addressed to some extent and in an integrative manner. Therefore, research, development, and demonstration are needed to test and refine the production systems and the mitigation strategies for sustainability concerns and to evaluate the systems and strategies based on the sustainability goals if the promise of sustainable development of algal biofuels has any chance of being realized.