Marine microalgae contribution to sustainable development

Simone Merlo, Xavier Gabarrell Durany, Angela Pedroso Tonon, Sergio Rossi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The burning of fossil fuels is an unsustainable activity, which is leading to an increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions and related global warming. Among sustainable energy sources, microalgae represent a promising alternative to fossil fuel and contribute to the achievement of important Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, the potential contribution of marine microalgae to sustainable development is large as, among other benefits, they represent a carbon negative energy source and may be applied in many coastal areas around the world. Despite this, significant economic and technological improvements are needed in order to make microalgae biofuels viable on a large scale. This review aims to explore how and to what extent third‐generation biofuels (marine microalgae, but also the latest advances in freshwater microalgae) can benefit the realization of these SDGs. From this study we concluded that the production of large‐scale marine microalgae biofuels is not yet feasible from the economic perspective at a large scale. However, the cultivation of microalgae in seawater holds great potential for increasing the small to medium viability of this biofuel source. The possibilities for improvement along with the contributions to sustainable development lay the groundwork for continuing to study and apply the potential of sustainable production of microalgae bioenergy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1373
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2021


  • Biodiesel
  • Biofuels
  • Bio‐economy
  • Coastal areas
  • Energy security
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Marine microalgae
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable development goals


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