A Dutch company, Ecofys, is investigating the possibilities of integrating seaweed cultivation into offshore wind farms. The project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation,
Ecofys and several partners are creating a test module for seaweed cultivation in an offshore environment. The test module consists of nets a few metres below the sea surface, held in place by steel cables attached to buoys.
The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands is looking into refining the seaweed into proteins that could be components for biofuels or used as biomass for energy generation. Ecofys also believes that the seaweed could be used as animal and fish feed.
The location for the test is a former sand mining area, 10 kilometre off the coast of the island of Texel in the northern part of the Netherlands. The area is regarded as suitable for offshore wind although no wind farm has yet been established there.
Anouk Florentinus, project manager at Ecofys, said that “A wind farm is closed for shipping and commercial fishing, This makes it a kind of marine conservation area. Fish will be attracted to the seaweed fields and use them for shelter and even as a nursery.”
The trial began this month and will be completed in June 2013.