Astaxanthin producer AstaReal is now using excess heat from its facility in Gustavsberg, Sweden, to feed the local district heating network. This sustainable venture is made possible through the company’s cooperation with the energy utility Vattenfall.
As a result, the production of microalgae-derived astaxanthin, known for its scientifically proven health benefits, is now supplying heat for 2,000-2,500 households.
“We want to produce astaxanthin as sustainably as possible, and so utilising excess heat for the benefit of local residents takes us one step further towards this goal,” said Peter Worsöe, CEO of AstaReal.
In its facility in Gustavsberg, AstaReal cultivates the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis from which it derives astaxanthin, one of nature's most powerful antioxidants.
The excess heat from algae cultivation can provide 20% of the annual heating needs of Gustavberg’s residents, which equates to more than fifteen million kilowatt hours of heat per year. This heat has been harnessed with the help of Vattenfall, AstaReal’s long-term partner for energy solutions, which has developed and installed the state-of-the-art heat recovery facility.
AstaReal processes its algae indoors under controlled hygienic conditions using specially designed photobioreactors that allow for optimal growth. The cultivation requires light and cooling, which in AstaReal’s Gustavsberg plant is driven by fossil-free electricity from Vattenfall. The plant has also been recently equipped with a more climate-friendly refrigerant.
Choosing indoor over outdoor cultivation contributes to an efficient use of space and avoids plants being negatively impacted by weather conditions, animals or pollutants. In line with the company’s sustainability goals, AstaReal continually monitors and improves energy efficiency in all its production facilities, including those in the USA and Japan. The plant in Moses Lake (USA), for example, uses renewable hydroelectric power from the Columbia River. Furthermore, AstaReal uses carbon accounting to record its greenhouse gas emissions within the boundaries set by The Greenhouse Protocol, and wants to become carbon neutral by March 2026.