AstaReal’s Cultivation Excess is Heating up to 2,500 Swedish Homes

AstaReal excess heat

The cultivation of the microalgae Haematococcus pluviailis takes place in a carefully controlled facility in Gustavsberg, outside Stockholm. Several people work in the cultivation plant growing, harvesting and quality-checking the algae.

Excess heat from algae cultivation is now being used for district heating in up to 2,500 apartments in Gustavsberg, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. Power company Vattenfall’s innovative installation uses waste heat from AstaReal’s astaxanthin production process, that would otherwise be lost.

AstaReal was the first to succeed in commercially culturing Haematococcus pluvialis as a source of natural astaxanthin. Their success was predicated on the acquisition of BioCaroten AB, a bio venture from Uppsala University in Sweden, which succeeded in commercial cultivation of astaxanthin in 1994.

In Autumn of 2021, an energy contract was signed for a specially adapted facility for heat recovery installed at AstaReal’s production facility in Gustavsberg. “The technical solution is now in place, and we’ll continue to be responsible for operations and administration in the future,” said Lars Blomberg, who manages industrial customer accounts at Vattenfall Network Solutions. “We’re proud of our collaboration with AstaReal, who pioneered the heat recovery, a groundbreaking solution that will benefit both their business and the local area.”

Vattenfall and AstaReal have a comprehensive partnership for energy solutions. In addition to the heat recovery facility, Vattenfall owns and manages high-voltage facilities including transformers and switchgears, and supplies AstaReal with climate-neutral electricity.

“AstaReal’s production process is energy-intensive requiring both electricity and cooling. The excess heat is now being used for heating homes and premises, and Gustavsberg’s residents now get more than 20 per cent of their heating needs from the new technology,” said Kurosh Beradari, sales and marketing director at Vattenfall Heat in Sweden.

The new solution makes it possible to efficiently recover excess heat from the production process, and also means that more than fifteen million kilowatt hours of heat per year will be recovered and reused in the Gustavsberg heating network.

“Production of natural astaxanthin takes place through the cultivation of algae in unique indoor photobioreactors. It’s therefore important for us to use electricity and cooling as efficiently as possible,” said Peter Worsöe, CEO of AstaReal AB. “Our extended partnership with Vattenfall fully aligns with our ambition to grow the algae as sustainably as possible and to be a positive force in society with a circular business. We’re really happy that the Excess Heat Recovery Project is now up and running.”

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