Norther gets first offshore seaweed farm in the world
Consortium wants to grow seaweed on a large scale in offshore wind farm
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 — Norther, the Belgian wind farm on the North Sea, is taking part in a unique project to grow seaweed on a large scale. The consortium “Wier & Wind” starts a pilot project to grow seaweed among Norther’s wind turbines. This is a world first. The production system will be installed at the end of this year. The first harvest is scheduled for April-May next year. For Norther, this fits perfectly into its strategy of sustainability.
The global demand for seaweed is very high and will increase in the coming years. Increased consumption of seaweed is one way of combating climate change. Its production does not require soil, fresh water or fertilizers. Moreover, seaweed is healthy because it is packed full of proteins, minerals and vitamins. Smart solutions – such as growing between wind turbines – can make the production process more efficient.
Sustainable projects such as that of “Wier & Wind” fit perfectly into Norther’s sustainability strategy.
“Seaweed farms can contribute to a carbon neutral future for our planet. At Norther, we therefore consider it important to support this initiative and we are very curious about the commercial success of offshore seaweed farms because they are complementary to our activities at sea”, says Thierry Aelens, executive director of Norther NV.
This complementarity between Norther and the consortium is reflected in logistics, among other things. Almost every day, a boat sails from Norther to the wind farm for maintenance, technical inspections or urgent interventions. If harvesting has to take place or if maintenance has to be carried out on the seaweed farm, these sailings can be shared.
AtSeaNova – one of the Flemish partners in the consortium and specialised in the design and installation of seaweed farms – sees the project as “the next step” to achieve large-scale offshore cultivation of seaweed”.
“Seaweed is the biomass of the future. It can be used for many large-scale applications, such as food, animal feed and biomaterials (e.g. bioplastics or biotextiles)”, says project coordinator Bert Groenendaal of AtSeaNova.
Eef Brouwers of Stichting Noordzeeboerderij also underlines this.
“This project gives us the opportunity to accelerate large-scale seaweed cultivation on a European level and thus give the entire seaweed chain a boost”.
Green electricity producer Eneco, one of Norther’s shareholders, sees the complementarity and added value of the partnership.
“Multifunctional use of space is a prerequisite for the large-scale roll-out of wind energy at sea and for accelerating the energy transition. A project like this contributes to this. We’re proud to be a pacesetter in this,” says Ruben Dijkstra, Eneco’s Director of Offshore Wind.
Multiple use of space at sea is an idea that governments have been encouraging for a number of years and that is included in various policy plans, such as the Belgian government’s Marine Spatial Plan and the Dutch government’s Knowledge and Innovation Agenda for Agriculture, Water and Food.
About “Wier & Wind”
Wier & Wind’ is a research project co-financed by the Interreg programme of the European Union (European Regional Development Fund, ERDF), which runs from July 2019 to June 2022. In this project, companies Seaweed Harvest Nordsea, AtSeaNova, Murre Technologies and GEOxyz want to significantly increase the production of seaweed. The sector organisation North Sea Farm Foundation and knowledge institutes Ugent and HZ University of Applied Science will support them in this.
For more information about the ‘Wier & Wind’ project, go to www.wierenwind.eu or contact Bert Groenendaal, project coordinator:
Tel: +32 495 50 48 19
For more information about Norther, visit www.norther.be or contact Mark Van Hamme, Communication Manager Norther:
Tel: +32 473 468 499
About Norther and its shareholders and advisors
Norther is a project company owned by Elicio NV, Eneco Wind Belgium SA and Diamond Generating Europe BV.
Elicio NV (“Elicio”), holding 50% of the Norther shares, is a Belgian renewable energy producer operating internationally and active in the development, construction, financing and production of wind energy. Beyond Norther, Elicio is involved as shareholder (via Otary) in the Rentel and Seamade offshore wind projects in Belgium and currently manages 30 operational onshore windfarms with a combined capacity of 226MW (located in Belgium, France and Serbia) and another 57MW currently under construction. The Company is headquartered in Ostend, Belgium.
Eneco Wind Belgium is a top player in the field of renewable energy and has offices in Wavre and Mechelen. The company develops wind turbine parks in Wallonia and Flanders, both on land (onshore) and at sea (offshore). Eneco has a total of 100 onshore wind turbines in Wallonia and Flanders. Eneco Wind also participates in the largest Belgian offshore wind farm, Norther. This park consists of 44 wind turbines with a total capacity of 370 MW and supplies energy to nearly 400,000 families and is fully operational. It is also a shareholder in SeaMmade, an offshore wind farm of 58 turbines with a total capacity of 487 MW. This park is currently under construction and will be operational by the end of 2020.
Diamond Generating Europe is an independent power producer covering power and water generation projects, as well as power downstream business in Europe, Middle East and Africa. It currently has a gross capacity either installed, under construction and under development of 5 GW (1.3 GW net), including two offshore wind farms (680 MW and 129 MW) in the Netherlands, a 950 MW offshore wind farm in UK and onshore windfarms in Northern France.
Green Giraffe acted as financial advisor to Norther. Loyens & Loeff acted as legal advisor to Norther throughout the process and Jones Day acted as lenders ‘counsel.