This farm will be able to make the most of the free space left between the turbines of a wind farm located in the North Sea, an area where it is difficult to find suitable sites for expanding algae crops. If seaweed spread across the entire North Sea, occupying 1 million hectares of available wind farm area, it could potentially remove millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually by 2040.
The project is being run by a consortium of scientific researchers and algae industry partners, led by the nonprofit North Sea Farmers (NSF), and is set to begin work later this year. In addition, North Sea Farm 1 is expected to become a model for overseas kelp farming globally.
Amazon contributed €1.5 million to build this algae farm – the first of its kind – and to fund a year’s worth of scientific research on how to sequester carbon through growing algae. The investment is part of Amazon’s $100 million Climate Right Now fund, aimed at promoting conservation and restoration projects for the natural environment, and is part of the company’s efforts to decarbonize its business. From this fund, Amazon has committed to allocating €20 million to promote European projects that contribute to increasing biodiversity and conserving, restoring and improving the environmental conditions of the communities in which it operates.
The world’s first seaweed farm nestled between offshore wind turbines
North Sea Farm 1 will set a new standard for marine seaweed farming. This grant will provide the necessary investment to start the innovation phase and build a 10-hectare seaweed farm, which is expected to produce a minimum of 6,000 kg of fresh seaweed in its first year.
The investment will also help North Sea Farmers analyze and improve agricultural production performance. At the same time, scientists and researchers will be able to study the potential of seaweed farms to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and model the effects and consequences of large-scale seaweed farming. The results of these studies are expected to contribute to the development of the industry. Finally, North Sea Farm 1 and others will create growing jobs and create products from seaweed.
“Seaweed has the potential to become a major tool in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, yet it is currently cultivated on a relatively small scale in Europe,” said Zack Watts, Amazon’s Director of Sustainability in Europe. “We are pleased to fund this project, which will help to better understand how seaweed can help combat climate change.”
Crop development in the North Sea
North Sea Farmers (NSF) has been supporting the seaweed sector in Europe since 2014. This non-profit organization will lead the project, working with a consortium of European organizations involved in the seaweed production supply chain. These research entities include Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Deltares and Silvestrum Climate Associates, algae extract manufacturers Algaia, and marine installation contractors Van Oord.
Yves Brewers, Director of Agriculture and Technology at NSF, commented: “If North Sea Farm 1 is replicated throughout the North Sea, up to 85,000 full-time jobs could be created in the European seaweed sector, utilizing the space available in wind farms. These jobs will not only focus on the cultivation process, but also on the production and sale of products extracted from algae.”
Through the Climate Right Now Fund, Amazon has so far invested in European projects such as the Nature and Wildlife Restoration Fund in France, a reforestation program in Italy, an urban greening project in Germany, and another in reforestation and tree planting in the UK. In addition, Amazon has funded Appalachian Forest Preservation and Restoration (USA), the Accelerated Agroforestry and Restoration Program in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, and is a key member of the LEAF Coalition, a new global public-private initiative to mobilize at least $1 billion. To protect the rainforests of the world.