AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Amazon is funding the world’s first commercial-scale seaweed farm located between offshore wind turbines, according to a recent North Sea Farmers news release. The project, known as North Sea Farm 1, will be located in a wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands. It has been 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. If seaweed farming were to expand to occupy the entire space occupied by wind farms, expected to be about 1 million hectares by 2040, it could reduce millions of tonnes of CO2 annually, according to North Sea Farmers.
The project is managed by a consortium of scientific researchers and partners from the seaweed industry, led by non-profit organization North Sea Farmers, 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.
Amazon is granting €1.5 million ($1.6 million) to create this seaweed farm and carry out a year’s scientific research into carbon reduction through seaweed farming.
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 6,000 kg of fresh seaweed in its first year.
This funding will also support North Sea Farmers in analyzing 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, modeling 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.
Project leader North Sea Farmers will be working with a consortium of organizations from across Europe that are involved in the entire seaweed production supply chain. This includes researchers Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Deltares and Silvestrum Climate Associates as well as seaweed extract manufacturers Algaia and maritime contractor Van Oord.
Eef Brouwers, manager of farming and technology with North Sea Farmers, 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, repurposing the space among wind farms."
The spaces between the turbines will be mostly unused.
Other projects are looking at the feasibility of operating floating solar panels between the turbines.