Seaweed farming opens doors to new energy source

SONY DSCSeaweed grown in the North Sea will be able to provide as much sustainable energy as wind turbines by 2020, according to the Dutch energy research centre ECN.

The European-funded AT Sea project is developing textiles and systems for seaweed cultivation which it hopes will lead to large scale cultivation and harvesting in the open sea. The seaweed will then be used by the biotech, food and biomass industries.

According to the ECN in Monday’s Volkskrant, tests in Norway, Scotland and Ireland show that seaweed can be grown and harvested efficiently, which opens the way for production on a massive scale.

However, although the techniques are successful, there is still a long way to go, Groningen University researcher André Faaij  told the Volkskrant. In particular, food for the seaweed will pose a problem, Faaij, who is not involved with the research, said.

The availability of foodstuffs will decline quickly during mass production, Faaij said. ‘Monitoring disease is also an issue during mass production, as it has been with intensive salmon farming,’ he pointed out.

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