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The development of seaweed-derived fuels in the UK: An analysis of stakeholder issues and public perceptions


Macroalgae (seaweed)-derived fuels are gaining increasing attention due to the high rate of seaweed growth, its lack of lignocellulose (which makes for energy-efficient processing), its lack of need for land or freshwater, and its potential suitability for commercial applications in the UK. However, while technological issues are progressively being solved, wider issues of stakeholder and public perception have largely been ignored, potentially hindering the development of this technology. This research fills this gap by conducting 19 interviews with stakeholders and 7 focus groups with members of the public to gain a deeper and broader understanding of perceptions of macroalgae-derived fuels. The results highlight the technological promise and confidence in the potential of macroalgae-derived fuels. However, they also emphasise conflicts and uncertainties among stakeholders (e.g. competition with other high-value products derived from macroalgae) and the general public (e.g. conflict with marine users). This paper provides insight into potential social resistance and key issues in the macroalgae-to-fuels supply chain. This information will enable two-way communication between everyone involved and increase the likelihood of successfully developing this supply chain. Key policy issues are discussed to facilitate this communication and encourage investment in the process.

Document author: Per Gegga; Victoria Wells
Institution: Durham University Business School, The York Management School
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