The Netherlands – The first commercial-scale seaweed farm in the world is being funded by Amazon and is situated between offshore wind turbines.
The project is able to increase seaweed production in the North Sea, which is already heavily exploited, by situating the farm in previously unoccupied space between turbines. By 2040, there will likely be 1 million hectares of land dedicated to wind farms. If seaweed farming were to take up that entire area, it would be able to offset millions of tonnes of CO2 each year.
The initiative will be operational by the end of this year and is operated by a group of academic researchers and partners from the seaweed business, under the direction of the nonprofit North Sea Farmers (NSF). The consortium envisions North Sea Farm 1 becoming a model for offshore seaweed cultivation around the globe.
To build this pioneering seaweed farm and conduct a year of scientific research on carbon reduction through seaweed farming, Amazon is providing €1.5 million. In addition to the work the company is doing to decarbonize its business, Amazon has committed $100 million to its global Right Now Climate Fund to encourage nature-based solutions. Amazon has pledged €20 million through this fund to initiatives across Europe that aim to improve nature in Amazon-operated communities and increase biodiversity.
Seaweed farm at wind turbines
Aiming to spark innovation in offshore seaweed farming is North Sea Farm 1. A 10-hectare seaweed farm will be built with the help of the grant, and it is anticipated that it would generate at least 6,000kg of fresh seaweed in its first year.
Additionally, this investment will help North Sea Farmers evaluate and enhance the farm’s production capacities. Simultaneously, scientists will study the effects of extensive seaweed farming to examine the potential for seaweed farms to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The nonprofit organization thinks that these results will contribute to the industry’s growth. The ability to grow seaweed and make products based on it will be offered by North Sea Farm 1 and similar operations.
North Sea agriculture
Since 2014, North Sea Farmers (NSF) has promoted the European seaweed industry. The non-profit will take the lead on the initiative and collaborate with a group of organizations from all around Europe that are involved in every aspect of the supply chain for seaweed farming. Included in this are the scientific organizations Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Deltares, and Silvestrum Climate Associates, the producers of seaweed extract Algaia, and the marine contractors Van Oord.
Amazon has already invested in a nature and wildlife restoration fund in France, a reforestation program in Italy, an urban greening program in Germany, and a rewilding and tree planting project in the UK as part of the Right Now Climate Fund’s commitment to funding nature-based projects in European communities. Amazon is also a key member of the LEAF Coalition, a new global public-private initiative to mobilize at least $1 billion to protect tropical rainforests around the world. Amazon has funded forest conservation and restoration in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator program in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, and the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator program.