Blue Economy Thought Leadership
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
What’s happening? An Oceans of Energy development off the coast of the Netherlands has become the first aquaculture project powered by floating solar technology. The 50KW PV-powered plant, developed in collaboration with the Seaweed Company, extends across six square kilometres and builds on the Zon-op-Zee pilot which ran in 2019. The seaweed farm is part of the European H2020 United project designed to encourage “sustainable and multi-use offshore systems” in EU waters.
Why does this matter? Growing at 8% a year, the seaweed market is gaining interest globally and expanding rapidly in areas including the US and Europe due to potential applications in several sectors.
The Oceans of Energy multi-use offshore development utilises space in between its photovoltaic (PV) panels to grow seaweed, which is collected by the Cultivator – an offshore harvesting machine that is expected to produce around 15,000 kg of seaweed, which would absorb around 1.8 mt of CO2. The high-wave floating PV panels powering the farm are built for stormy conditions, and can operate under 13-meter-high waves.
Other multi-use offshore developments are being explored in European waters. The European Union’s H2020 United Programme, which supports the Oceans of Energy project and which launched last year, aims to demonstrate the viability and advantages of combining offshore energy projects with aquaculture or tourism, through five real-life pilot applications. Other pilot sites supported by the project include flat oyster bed restoration and seaweed cultivation at an offshore wind farm operated by Parkwind in Belgian waters. The aquaculture of flat oysters is expected to aid the restoration and growth of natural oyster reefs, which will be encouraged by the scour material used around the wind turbine foundations.
Elsewhere, Dutch firm Van Oord has planned to install eight oyster reef structures at the Borssele offshore wind farm as part of a project designed to revive oyster populations and marine biodiversity in the North Sea.
Co-locating aquaculture developments, such as seaweed farming, with offshore projects can prove to be economically beneficial by taking advantage of unused marine spaces, and can also provide affordable access to food, energy and jobs to remote communities.
There are many potential uses for algae alongside human consumption. These include reducing emissions from livestock – firms such as Australia’s FutureFeed are looking to commercialise an Asparagopsis seaweed-based livestock feed additive, which successfully reduced methane emissions from cattle by over 80% in trials. Seaweed is being developed into biodegradable packaging by Oceanium for food products as a plastic alternative. Meanwhile in the UK, researchers from the University of Liverpool are investigating the anti-viral qualities of seaweed and future uses in sustainable disinfectant products, while researchers from the University of Exeter and Bath have converted the invasive seaweed Sargassum into bio-oil.
From a market perspective, the future of these sea plants looks promising. The European seaweed market is forecast to be worth €9bn ($11bn) by 2030 – and regenerative seaweed farming can play a possible role in a green post-pandemic recovery as well as in the European Green Deal. In Australia, the industry could be worth AUD 1.5bn ($1.2bn) by 2040. The private sector is also taking an interest – a WWF’s seaweed farming project received a $100m grant late last year from Jeff Bezos’ $10bn Earth Fund in recognition of its environmental benefits.
It’s important however this growth comes with checks to make sure there are no adverse consequences to the wider marine environment – the ecological consequences of large offshore seaweed farms are still relatively unknown.
- Plastic export rules could lead to cleaner ocean in five years
- EU to exceed sustainable fishing quotas, Brexit confusion blamed
- Chilean salmon farmer will scrap air freight to shrink emissions
- Oysters return to Belfast Lough without reintroduction programme
- Sea temperatures put southern right whales at risk: study
- Canada boat speed limits not enough to prevent right whale deaths
- Arctic hydrate methane release is influenced by tides, sea level
- Existing tropical tuna quotas to be carried over to 2021 by IATTC
- Consensus agreed by WCPFC to rollover tropical tuna quota
- Antarctic iceberg shifts course, but still poses ecosystem threat
- Greenland ice melt estimates higher in new climate models: study
- Coral sanctuary discovered in Indian Ocean ‘cool spot’
- Salmon farms in the Discovery Islands to be phased out by 2022
- Ljungdahls Fast applies for license for 10,000 mt RAS in Sweden
- Further fire at Huon Aquaculture salmon pen in Tasmania
- Vietnam’s Minh Phu Seafood to boost black tiger shrimp farming
- Mowi divests from vessel firm DESS Aquaculture
- South Korea to build smart aquaculture cluster in Busan
- Nova Austral achieves ASC stamp following licensing suspension
- SAIC announces £900,000 for eight Scottish aquaculture projects
- Salmon farming could become carbon neutral through new project
- Nordic Aqua Partners to open integrated RAS in China this year
Carbon Capture and Sensors
- Northern Lights CCS project to be funded by Norwegian government
- Swedish enzymatic CO2 capture project secures funding
- Veolia, Carbon Clean to build biomethane, CCS projects in India
- SGN, GIG to fund hydrogen hub in Southampton with CCUS
Emerging Preservation Technology
- AquaDEEP technology to monitor sea lice to trial in Scotland
- Nestle backs bio-based soluble packaging material for water
- Pangaia invests in bio-based textile company Kintra
- Global plastic waste tracker platform developed by IBM
- Method demonstrated to separate zinc from waste fly ash
- Porsche to trace plastics using Circularise blockchain platform
- Mayflower Wind to demo Atkins 10 MW floating wind turbine in US
- PivotBuoy floating platform to be tested at PLOCAN in 2021
- MaREI helps advance SuperNode’s superconducting subsea cables
- AI, satellites locate potential forced labour concerns in fishing