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World's first seaweed and offshore wind combo farm gets green light: 'The Formula 1 of seaweed production'

"We believe that in time offshore wind farms will have multiple uses, with seaweed being one of them."

"We believe that in time offshore wind farms will have multiple uses, with seaweed being one of them."

Photo Credit: iStock

The world's first commercial seaweed farm to be grown within an offshore wind farm is in the works.

The North Sea, which separates the UK from mainland Europe, is already home to dozens of wind farms with more on the way, but why not put the area between the wind turbines to use? 

That's exactly what the trade organization North Sea Farmers thought. The seaweed farm, called North Sea Farm 1, will be planted in a wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands this fall. The farm will be about 25 acres and is expected to produce over 13,000 pounds when harvested after spring 2025.

North Sea Farmers first came up with the idea for a seaweed farm within a wind farm in 2020. They have worked with multiple organizations to get the project off the ground, including Amazon Right Now Climate Fund, which donated nearly $2 million to the project last year.

But the most important partnership was with the Irish firm Simply Blue Group, which has already shown a propensity for getting as much use out of the wind farm space as possible, attaching solar panels, wave energy converters, and green hydrogen systems onto the turbines.

Seaweed might be one of the best, and so far underutilized, methods of combating the warming of the planet. Seaweed absorbs carbon and methane from the atmosphere, two of the biggest contributors to extreme weather events caused by the warming of the planet, including floods and droughts that endanger the food supply worldwide. Seaweed is also a source of food and can be used to make biofuels.

On top of all of that, last year, researchers at the Norwegian science institute SINTEF used seaweed to create "biocoal," which is a carbon-neutral fuel, meaning it removes as much carbon from the atmosphere as it releases when it's burned.

The researchers are also testing the biocoal's ability to improve agricultural capacities.

There really is no downside to adding seaweed farms to the North Sea and elsewhere. But according to Seaweed Company founder Joost Wouters, doing so in an offshore wind farm is "the Formula 1 of seaweed production." It requires a level of expense and risk that doesn't exist in typical shallow waters.

Nonetheless, North Sea Farmers and their partners hope this will be the beginning of a new industry in Europe and beyond.

Simply Blue co-founder and CEO Hugh Kelly said in a press statement: "We recognize that seaweed cultivation is a valuable tool in tackling climate change and supporting our oceans. We believe that in time offshore wind farms will have multiple uses, with seaweed being one of them."

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