Amazon Finances First-Ever Commercial-Scale Seaweed Farm Located Between Offshore Wind Turbines
Multinational technology company Amazon is funding the world’s first commercial-scale seaweed farm located between offshore wind turbines.
The North Sea Farm 1 will be located in a wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands, designed to test and improve methods of seaweed farming, while researching the potential of seaweed to sequester carbon.
By locating the farm in previously empty space between turbines, the project is able to expand seaweed cultivation in the otherwise heavily used North Sea, Amazon said.
If seaweed farming were to expand to occupy the entire space occupied by wind farms, expected to be approximately 1 million hectares by 2040, it could reduce millions of tonnes of CO2 annually.
The project is managed by a consortium of scientific researchers and partners from the seaweed industry, led by non-profit organisation North Sea Farmers (NSF), and is expected to become operational by the end of this year. The consortium hopes that North Sea Farm 1 will evolve into a blueprint for offshore seaweed farming the world over.
NSF is also joined by Van Oord and Algaia on the North Sea Farm 1 project. The farm is scheduled to be installed and seeded in the autumn of this year. This first harvest is expected in spring 2024.
Amazon is granting EUR 1.5 million to create this first-of-its-kind seaweed farm and carry out a year’s scientific research into carbon reduction through seaweed farming. The funding comes from its USD 100 million global Right Now Climate Fund – Amazon’s commitment to support nature-based solutions, which is in addition to the work the company is doing to decarbonise its business. Through this fund, Amazon has committed EUR 20 million to projects across Europe to enhance biodiversity and conserve, restore and improve nature in communities where Amazon operates.
North Sea Farm 1 aims to kickstart innovation in offshore seaweed farming. The grant will provide the investment required to construct a 10-hectare seaweed farm, which is expected to produce at least 6,000kg of fresh seaweed in its first year.
This funding will also support North Sea Farmers in analysing and improving the farm’s production capabilities. At the same time, researchers will explore the potential of seaweed farms to remove carbon from the atmosphere, modelling the impacts of large-scale seaweed farming. The non-profit hopes these findings will help play a role in scaling the industry. North Sea Farm 1 and others like it will also provide an opportunity to create jobs through the farming and production of seaweed-based products.
“Seaweed could be a key tool in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, yet it’s currently farmed at a relatively small scale in Europe,” said Zak Watts, Director EU Sustainability at Amazon.
”We’re delighted to fund this project to help us reach a greater understanding of its ability to help fight climate change.”
North Sea Farmers (NSF) has championed the seaweed sector in Europe since 2014. The non-profit will lead the project, working with a consortium of organisations from across Europe that are involved in the entire seaweed production supply chain. This includes researchers Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Deltares and Silvestrum Climate Associates, seaweed extract manufacturers Algaia and marine contractors Van Oord.
Eef Brouwers, Manager of Farming and Technology at NSF, said: ”Potentially, up to 85,000 full-time jobs could be created in the European seaweed sector by replicating North Sea Farm 1 across the North Sea, re-purposing the space amongst wind farms. These jobs would not only be in the farming process but also in the production and sales of seaweed-based products.”
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