Efficient and sustainable microalgal cultivation is likely to require large inputs of energy, seawater and nutrients with associated carbon footprints.
Questions relating to water source and outflow issues (e.g. hypersalinity) and nutrient-enriched effluent streams are all factors that must be taken into full account when siting reactors and performing environmental impact assessments.
As with macroalgal cultivation, there is potential for microalgal systems to 'piggy-back' on existing commercial activities and confer environmental benefits.
For example, establishing microalgae reactors next to industrial facilities will take advantage of thermal and nutrient co-product streams, reducing environmentally detrimental effluents whilst enhancing microalgae biomass production.
Microalgal cultivation has also been proposed as a means of mitigating CO2