Algal Solutions for Local Energy Economy (ASLEE)

The Atlantic coast of Scotland has some of the best renewable energy generation potential in Europe, but developments are being compromised by grid constraints. This is hindering economic development in some of our most vulnerable communities. New uses for electricity in areas that are currently grid constrained would enable an increase in both renewable energy use and industry – creating community resilience, income generation and employment.

ASLEE is an ambitious and innovative partnership project aiming to boost the economy in rural Scotland by using renewable power to produce high value microalgae.  Algae production has an immediate niche in Scotland’s aquaculture industries – for hatchery use and addition to fish feeds – but can also be used for a wide range of products such as nutraceuticals, toxin standards, pigments, and biofuels. Access to low cost renewable electricity would give Scottish production of microalgae a sustainable competitive advantage, while domestic production would give Scottish aquaculture improved quality assurance of feed ingredients and security of supply.  Algae biomanufacturing could also benefit the local circular economy by using local waste streams as feedstocks: carbon dioxide from fermentation or combustion effluents; nutrient rich wastes from whisky distilleries and agricultural processes.

This ground-breaking £2 million, 2-year R&D project will build experimental and industrial scale pilot units whilst investigating a number of further sites in the north and west of Scotland for potential future scale up.  The project will determine the economic and technical feasibility of using renewable energy and transactive load management to reduce the costs of algal biomanufacturing and enable grid balancing, and will investigate the wider economic and social impact that implementation of this technology could have in rural Scotland and beyond. 

The effects of intermittency of electrical supply on algae production will be a key research objective and will allow the development of operational protocols that optimise the economic benefits of the integration of renewable generation and grid balancing / demand side balancing reserve services with algal production. This is the first study of its kind in the world, giving Scotland a valuable technical lead in this field. The project will deliver 40,000l of internally-lit photobioreactor capacity, making it the largest facility of its type in the UK and provide a valuable facility for investigating the potential of novel algal products at industrial scales.

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The Partnership

Xanthella Ltd

An Argyll-based SME, Xanthella designs and manufactures equipment for algal biomanufacturing and research. It leads the ASLEE project with its Chief Executive, Dr Douglas McKenzie acting as the project’s coordinator. Xanthella are also responsible for leading the technical programme, stakeholder engagement and project legacy. 

Contact: Douglas McKenzie 01631 258103

ALIenergy Ltd

Argyll, Lomond and the Islands Energy Ltd is the energy agency for Argyll and is a charity limited by guarantee, with a commitment to promote sustainable energy use and renewable energy generation, to address fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.It provides the secretariat for the project and is responsible for dissemination. 
Contact: Lynda Mitchell 01631 565183

Woodlands Renewables Ltd / Ardnamurchan Estate

Provides a grid constrained, rural location for the main PBR array. The estate has a track record in innovation taking advantage of technology, already having wind, hydro, biomass and wave generators on site, and plans for further development. 
Contact: William Kelly 01972 510 208

Wood Group Clean Energy

World-wide renewable energy consultancy involved in community energy projects, currently working to develop innovative solutions to combine renewable energy with other investment opportunities in remote communities. Wood Group Clean Energy provides support on integration with existing and planned renewable energy projects including feasibility, technical analysis of supply options, metering requirements and analysis of electric demand/generation balances. 
Contact: Fergus Tickell 0141 227 1429

FAI Aquaculture / Ardtoe Marine Research Facility

Ardtoe Marine Research facility carries out a wide range of applied R&D projects in the area of marine aquaculture including large scale commercial culture of a wide range of microalgae species. They will test and compare the cost effective productivity and nutritional quality of a range of algal species by the PBR, focusing on its application for oyster production. 

University of Stirling / Marine Environmental Research Laboratory (MERL), Machrihanish

Aquaculture and ranked top among UK institutions focusing on aquaculture research. MERL will provide nutritional analysis of algae, investigating the effects of light periodicity and intermittency on nutritional composition and the effects of nutrient supply in relation to fluctuations in light regime in order to optimise the nutritional quality of algal products. 

VCharge UK Ltd

Delivers services to electric grid operators and other electricity market participants using Aggregated Transactive Load. They currently deliver grid services on six grids in five countries. VCharge will help develop the parameters within which the PBRs will be able to lower energy costs and will also design the load control interface and algorithms to actually deliver those grid services.

University of the West Scotland

UWS is a leading-edge modern university committed to accessibility and wide geographical coverage across the West of Scotland. It has significant research and knowledge-exchange expertise in business start-up, business processes, renewable energy and rural development. UWS provides the project with business strategy, financial, economic and market analysis expertise and also technical expertise in electrical and engineering technologies. 

ASLEE project is supported by the Scottish Government's Local Energy Challenge Fund

Rushlights Awards

Winner in the Bioenergy category - 2017/18 

Scottish Resources Awards

Winner for Innovation - 2018

The Engineer's Collaborate to Innovate Award

Nominated in 2018


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