Future offshore wind farms can host nature-inclusive seaweed farms

A new collaboration between the offshore wind industry and the nature-inclusive seaweed sector is a stepping stone for realizing Multi-use sea farms. Ørsted and Stichting Noordzeeboerderij signed a Letter of Intent in which both parties express their intention to combine ‘mooring solutions with nature development in multi-use systems’. Stichting Noordzeeboerderij initiated the collaboration as they are currently working on a prototype of a nature-inclusive anchoring system: the Eco-anchor. This system will be designed for several multi-use activities within offshore wind farms. Ørsted underlines the need for exploring nature-inclusive multi-use concepts, considering the growth of wind farms at sea. The Letter of Intent marks a first step in achieving this.

The Eco-anchor project, supported by the AFAS Foundation, is key in upscaling seaweed production in the Netherlands in a sustainable way. Right now, seaweed production in the North Sea occurs on a pilot scale. The aim is to grow towards 500km2 of nature-inclusive seaweed cultivation within wind farms by 2030. In this way, these wind farms effectively become multi-use areas and this is an example of what we call: a Multi-use sea farm. It is essential for these types of farms to respect ecological boundaries so that it is a future-proof production activity. The ideal Multi-use sea farm seeks synergy between nature, food production and generating energy.
The Eco-anchor adds to achieving that synergy by developing a safe mooring system with nature-strengthening features. The Eco-anchor will be designed such that it can be used for various multi use activities, like nature-inclusive seaweed cultivation, mussel cultivation or even floating solar panels.

Ørsted is the first wind farm owner to express their support for this development. If the first tests with the prototype turn out to be a success, Ørsted is open to explore whether a combination of multi-use asset moorings and the Eco-anchor solution ‘could fit our strategy for nature--inclusive solutions in offshore wind farms’, according the letter of intent. Their positive attitude towards the Eco-anchor project is an important milestone, underlining the interest for this new type of multi-use sea farming. We expect other wind farm operators to follow their example, considering the appeal and need for multi-use activities at the North Sea. The Eco-anchor prototype will be ready for testing later this year. The prototype will be first tested at the offshore North Sea Innovation Lab, before heading out to an offshore wind farm.

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Photo by Ørsted (Burbo Bank wind farm)