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Question: Microalgae Biosequestration

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:06): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of microalgae biosequestration.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the release of greenhouse gases from human activities has resulted in an increase in concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), leading to global warming and climate change. Addressing the impacts of global warming has become a pressing concern for both economic systems and environmental/energy regulation in recent years. Climate and ecological disasters have posed threats to humanity and have forced decision-makers, politicians and companies to significantly reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, with a particular focus on CO2.

Among the existing CO2 capture technologies, microalgae guided sequestration is seen to be one of the more promising and sustainable solutions. Microalgae are single-celled microorganisms which turn solar radiation energy to chemical energy using photosynthesis and, like trees, absorb carbon dioxide naturally, removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Research has shown that this method of sequestration is 100 times more efficient at absorbing CO2 than an equivalent fast-growing tree—to produce one tonne of algal biomass, consumes 1.6 tonnes of CO2 and exhausts 1.2 tonnes of oxygen. Research says every second breath we take originates from oceanic microalgae.

The USA, along with Asian and European countries, has now started the industrialisation of bioenergy with the use of microalgae biosequestration. My question to the minister is: previously, she has detailed what her department is doing to develop aquaculture and seaweed industries in South Australia. Can the minister now also inform the council what her department is doing with regard to microalgae?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:08): I thank the honourable member for her question. Microalgae sequestration is certainly an interesting area of research. I am happy to discuss with my department whether SARDI or PIRSA is currently involved in any of that particular research and bring an answer back to the chamber.

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