eCommerce giant Amazon has invested €1.5 million in the world’s first commercial-scale seaweed farm, which is located between offshore wind turbines in the North Sea, off the coast of the Netherlands.
This project is called “North Sea Farm 1”. It has been designed to test and improve methods of seaweed farming and look into the potential of seaweed to sequester carbon.
The project also expands seaweed cultivation in the heavily used North Sea. It aims to kickstart innovation in offshore seaweed farming. Amazon’s funding will provide the investment required to construct a 10-hectare seaweed farm, which is expected to produce about 6,000 kg of fresh seaweed in its first year.
Reduce Millions of Tons of CO2
Moreover, the funding will support North Sea Farmers in analyzing and improving the farm’s production capabilities. Researchers will also explore the potential of seaweed farms to remove carbon from the atmosphere, modeling the impacts of large-scale seaweed farming.
According to the North Sea Farmers, 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 tons of CO2 annually.
Zak Watts, director of EU sustainability at Amazon, said seaweed can play an important role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and is currently farmed at a relatively small scale in Europe. He hopes North Sea Farm 1 will help create a replicable blueprint to scale the nascent offshore seaweed farming sector and create jobs through the farming and production of seaweed-based products.
Year-long Research into Carbon Reduction
A consortium of organizations from across Europe led by the non-profit North Sea Farmers (NSF) will lead the year-long research into carbon reduction through seaweed farming at the site.
Researchers from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Deltares, and Silvestrum Climate Associates, as well as seaweed extract manufacturers Algaia and maritime contractor Van Oord, will be involved.
The NSF hopes the findings will help scale the industry and provide an opportunity to create jobs through the farming and production of seaweed-based products. Eef Brouwers, manager of farming and technology with NSF, believes that 85,000 full-time jobs could be created in the European seaweed sector. It would replicate North Sea Farm 1 across the North Sea and repurpose the space among wind farms.