business environment

Getting ocean farming to scale

Last week I wrote about a start-up company in the seaweed business, Carbon Kapture, and the challenges of scaling up the promising idea of ocean farming. Carbon Kapture are taking a crowd-funding model to try and get started, and are relying on local partnerships to grow their model.

By way of contrast, there’s another attempt at proving ocean farming at scale that’s going on at the moment. They’ve taken the route of taking one major funder, and it doesn’t come much bigger: Amazon.

North Sea Farm 1 is the first commercial scale seaweed farm to be located on a wind farm, doubling up the space and making use of existing infrastructure. It’s funded by Amazon‘s climate fund, and operated by the not-for-profit coalition North Sea Farmers. Installation is happening at the moment, for a first harvest in 2024.

The project specifically aims to scale up European seaweed production – “without any predictable supply of high-quality seaweed, no market could adopt seaweed-based products,” they say. “Even with the best product in the world, if companies cannot supply their customers now or in the near future then they will not invest and the development stops.”

Placing farms around turbines is also a smart move. The North Sea is pretty congested, and the governments of the UK and the Netherlands have made offshore wind a priority. Rather than compete for space, growing seaweed within the wind farm offers “co-usage of otherwise unused North Sea space.”

North Sea Farm 1 is a really important project with a lot to prove: can seaweed farming be done economically? Is it environmentally responsible? Is it safe for workers? Can it deliver the reliable supply chains that will enable a new industry? Time will tell, but North Sea Farmers imagines an industry with a workforce of 85,000 people working across seaweed farming and seaweed products by 2035.

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