Algae-Derived Fuels Now Eligible To Biofuel Tax Credit

After corn, you will likely end up with some transformed algae in your fuel tank soon.

As part of the bi-partisan “Fiscal Cliff” legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on Jan. 1, 2013, algae-derived fuels are, for the first time ever, a “qualified feedstock” under section 40 of the United States Code.

This means that producers of algal fuel are eligible for a $1.01 per gallon tax credit.

Algae can be used to produce both biodiesel and green fuel, as well as aviation fuel.

“Achieving tax parity with other biofuels has been a key legislative priority for ABO since our founding in 2008,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization, the trade association for the U.S. algae industry. “This new designation is the culmination of years of hard work, outreach and advocacy of ABO and our members as well as others in the algae industry. It is also a reflection of the increased understanding of, and enthusiasm for, algae-based fuels among members of Congress and the Obama administration.”

Under the legislation passed earlier this week producers of fuels derived from algae, cyanobacteria or lemna (another free-floating aquatic plant with biofuel potential) will be allowed to benefit from the $1.01 per gallon tax credit that was previously only available to cellulosic feedstocks.

The bill also includes language that extends a special depreciation allowance on biofuel plant property to producers using algae.

“This is a huge win for our members and America’s energy security,” Rosenthal continued. “By leveling the playing field, this legislation will help foster the continued investment in algae technology companies as well as accelerate the commercial production and the sale of algae-based fuels.”

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The association says the new classification comes at a critical time for the industry, as several algae-based fuel companies move to commercial production and research continues to create breakthrough opportunities for new technology and products. In the past year algae-based fuels have been successfully demonstrated in military aircraft and ships, and in late 2012 were introduced into commercial markets for automotive fuel for the first time.

Algae is a unique biofuel feedstock that can simultaneously be refined into vehicle fuels, recycle CO2 and provide nutrition for animals and people. The association says this can be done without harmful impacts on freshwater supplies or valuable agricultural land. More information can be found at www.allaboutalgae.com.