Microbes produced with the application of solar power and biomass are known as solar-powered microbes. Microbes are unicellular organisms prominently used as an ingredient in producing food products such as wine, beer, bakery, and dairy products.
In the current environmental scenario, the need for sustainable and more effective alternative solutions to counter the effects of changing climatic conditions is becoming necessary for every industry. The same applies to the food industry.
According to industry experts, solar-powered microbes are highly nutritious than conventional microbes. Additionally, the production process is more sustainable and aligns with the government’s intentions of boosting environmentally friendly policies.
This has increased the demand and popularity for solar-powered microbes across different food industry segments, such as dairy, bakery, beverages, meat, and other feed segments.
According to the BIS research report on the solar-powered microbes market, the use of solar-powered microbes in the food and feed industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.
This growth is primarily due to the rapidly increasing demand for microbes from the end-use industries and various government policies supporting solar energy-based food production.
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Benefits of Solar-Powered Microbes over Conventional Microbes
The microbes produced using solar energy and biomass have more protein and higher nutritional value than conventional microbes. The process involves the application of solar panels and carbon dioxide to produce fuel for the microbes. Further, the microbes are grown in bioreactor vats and used in various products as needed.
With the use of solar energy, the process becomes more energy efficient. It makes good use of land, water, and fertilizer and could be deployed anywhere, not just in areas with strong sunshine or fertile soils.
According to BIS Research analysis, solar-powered microbes require only 10% of the land area for each kilo of protein produced compared to other plant crops such as soybean. The study displayed that even in northern climates with less sunshine, the yields of solar-powered microbial foods could far outproduce staple crops while minimizing water and fertilizer use.
Factors Underlying the Growth of the Solar-Powered Microbes Market
The current surge in the deployment of solar-powered microbes technology is driven by certain demands and needs in the food and feed industry. Some factors affecting the market are discussed below:
1. Increase in demand for microbes in the feed industry: There has been a significant increase in the livestock population in the last few years. Hence, the need for feed for animals has also increased. The figure below is representing the increasing population of live stocks through the years.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), feed is the world’s largest user of land resources, with pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of the total agricultural land. Additionally, 33% of global arable land is used to grow feed, while 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing.
Therefore, creating a more efficient and sustainable alternative solution is crucial to fulfilling the rising feed demand while protecting natural resources.
2. Rising global population and demand for nutritious food: The global population is constantly increasing. According to the projection made by the FAO of the United Nations (UN), the global population is expected to increase to 9.1 billion by 2050. In addition to this, there is a huge gap in the equal distribution of nutritious food across the population. The figure below is representing the food insecurity across regions.
According to FAO, 9.2% of the total world population, i.e., around 700 million people, have been identified to have food insecurity in 2019. On a broader level, 17.2% of the total world population, i.e., around 1.3 billion people, have experienced food insecurity at a moderate level, which means they do not have regular access to high-quality food.
Governments and organizations worldwide are working toward fulfilling the food demand. Solar-powered microbes are considered one of the most promising innovations to provide a solution to such issues.
3. Growing demand for environmentally friendly equipment: One-fourth of the global greenhouse gases are emitted from agricultural sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and land use. With the increased growth in food production, the agriculture sector is immensely affecting the environment. There is a dire need for an alternative eco-friendly method of food production while maintaining the nutritious value of the food.
Nutrient-rich microorganisms combined with renewable energy such as solar panels generate more food with fewer resources. This will free up enormous agricultural land areas and prevent damage to natural ecosystems, further contributing to conservation, sustainability, and increasing global food availability.
The solar-powered microbes market is currently in the development phase, and with growing demand and applications, the market is gaining significant traction. For instance, in January 2020, Royal DSM, a health and nutrition-based firm, unveiled its artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to drive biotech innovation. The laboratory would be used for biotechnological processes and microbial strain development.
Moreover, in the coming years, heavy investments and applications are predicted to take place by market experts.
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