The Belgian-Dutch consortium "Wier & Wind" will test in the next 2 years whether seaweed can be grown on a large scale in the offshore wind farm Norther. It is true that many small seaweed growers have already started in recent years, but these are mainly located in sheltered areas or sometimes close to the coast. In the longer term, however, there are too few suitable locations along the coast to meet the increasing demand.
Wind farms at sea would then be a suitable alternative. Between the wind turbines there are many large, empty areas that can be used for sustainable food production, such as seaweed. Unused space is therefore used optimally.
The global demand for seaweed is very high and will increase in the coming years. Increased consumption of seaweed is one way of combating climate change. Its production does not require soil, fresh water or fertilizers. Moreover, seaweed is healthy because it is packed full of proteins, minerals and vitamins. Smart solutions - such as growing between wind turbines - can make the production process more efficient.
Sustainable projects such as that of "Wier & Wind" fit perfectly into Norther's sustainability strategy.
"Seaweed farms can contribute to a carbon neutral future for our planet. At Norther, we therefore consider it important to support this initiative and we are very curious about the commercial success of offshore seaweed farms because they are complementary to our activities at sea", says Thierry Aelens, executive director of Norther NV.
This complementarity between Norther and the consortium is reflected in logistics, among other things. Almost every day, a boat sails from Norther to the wind farm for maintenance, technical inspections or urgent interventions. If harvesting has to take place or if maintenance has to be carried out on the seaweed farm, these sailings can be shared.
AtSeaNova - one of the Flemish partners in the consortium and specialised in the design and installation of seaweed farms - sees the project as "the next step" to achieve large-scale offshore cultivation of seaweed".
"Seaweed is the biomass of the future. It can be used for many large-scale applications, such as food, animal feed and biomaterials (e.g. bioplastics or biotextiles)", says project coordinator Bert Groenendaal of AtSeaNova.
Eef Brouwers of Stichting Noordzeeboerderij also underlines this.
"This project gives us the opportunity to accelerate large-scale seaweed cultivation on a European level and thus give the entire seaweed chain a boost".
Green electricity producer Eneco, one of Norther's shareholders, sees the complementarity and added value of the partnership.
"Multifunctional use of space is a prerequisite for the large-scale roll-out of wind energy at sea and for accelerating the energy transition. A project like this contributes to this. We're proud to be a pacesetter in this," says Ruben Dijkstra, Eneco's Director of Offshore Wind.
Multiple use of space at sea is an idea that governments have been encouraging for a number of years and that is included in various policy plans, such as the Belgian government's Marine Spatial Plan and the Dutch government's Knowledge and Innovation Agenda for Agriculture, Water and Food.
About "Wier & Wind”
Wier & Wind' is a research project co-financed by the Interreg programme of the European Union (European Regional Development Fund, ERDF), which runs from July 2019 to June 2022. In this project, companies Seaweed Harvest Nordsea, AtSeaNova, Murre Technologies and GEOxyz want to significantly increase the production of seaweed. The sector organisation North Sea Farm Foundation and knowledge institutes Ugent and HZ University of Applied Science will support them in this.
For more information about the 'Wier & Wind' project, go to www.wierenwind.eu or contact Bert Groenendaal, project coordinator:
Tel: +32 495 50 48 19
For more information about Norther, visit www.norther.be or contact Mark Van Hamme, Communication Manager Norther:
Tel: +32 473 468 499