Economic feasibility of offshore seaweed production in the North Sea

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Presentation at the Aquaculture Europe Conference, August 2013 in Trondheim.

Presentation at the Aquaculture Europe Conference, August 2013 in Trondheim.

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  • 1. Economic feasibility of offshore seaweed production in the North Sea Sander van den Burg, Paul Bikker, Marinus van Krimpen & Arie-Pieter van Duijn
  • 2. Increasing interest in seaweeds  Interest in sustainable marine production ● World population growth ● Environmental pressures of imported feed and food ● Recovery of phosphor ● Alternative to land-based production  Offshore wind energy ● Large spatial claim (1,000 km2 for projected 6000 MW) ● Resistance from fishing community ● Responsible use of space
  • 3. Against this background: TripleP@sea  Wageningen UR initiated research project  On Multi-use platforms in the North sea  4 year, multi-disciplinary project  Link to other projects, e.g. FP7 Mermaid  2012/2013: zooming in on offshore seaweed production  Our focus: economic research within TripleP@sea
  • 4. Outline  Basic info on seaweed production in North Sea  Assess production costs  Review of seaweed applications and market values  Prospects for offshore seaweed production
  • 5. 90% of world production from aquaculture
  • 6. Only just started in Netherlands
  • 7. Production in Netherlands  On-going experiments with different production techniques (long-lines, nets)  Focus on indigenous species: ● Laminaria digitata ● Saccharina latissima ● Palmaria palmata ● Ulva lactuca
  • 8. Experiences with seaweed aquaculture Group: Brown algae Red algae Green algae Species: Laminaria digitata, Saccharina latissima Palmaria palmata Ulva lactuca Growth season September-May Summer Summer Optimal water temperature <18 15-20 15-20 Grow speed Up to a daily increase of DM of 20% under optimal conditions Up to daily increase of 35% of DM under optimal conditions Up to a daily increase in DM of 50% under optimal conditions Yield/ha (DM) 15 15-20 20 Vulnerability diseases Colonised by several organisms, thus hindering its growth during spring and summer Unknown It tends to be free floating under harsh conditions Production risks Fast degradation in spring (Saccharina latissima) Uncertain whether the plant will recover after wintertime Sudden disappearance
  • 9. Estimate production costs  Analysis of publications on the costs of seaweed production show great differences: Technology Invest Lifespan Operational Yield €/ tonne DM Source € Year €/year Tonnes DM Ring 1,000 per unit 10 n.a. 0.040 2,500 Buck and Buchholz (2004) Long-lines n.a. n.a. n.a. 121-409 Reith, Deurwaarder et al. (2005) 25,000 per ha 10 n.a. 35 71 Florentinus, Hamelick et al. (2008) 25,000 per ha n.a. 750 per ha + 104 per tonne of DM 50 669 Lenstra et al. (2011) 45,615 10 12,155 1.6 10,448 Petrell, Tabrizi et al. (1993)
  • 10. Estimate production costs  Based on own experiences Per ha lifespan (year) Per year Per tonne of DM (20 tonne yield) Investment in systems Low scenario 50,000 10 2,500 250 Investment in systems High scenario 150,000 10 7,500 750 Seedlings 13,000 1 13,000 650 Labour 300 1 300 15 Harvesting 104 Total Low 1,019 High 1,519
  • 11. Use of seaweed  Various applications of seaweed possible: ● Food ● Thickener/Alginates ● Feed ● Production of green chemicals ● Biofuel ● Research on: ● Plant hormones ● Omega-3 ● Pharmaceuticals (e.g. Mannitol)
  • 12. Use of seaweed  Various applications of seaweed possible: ● Food ● Thickener/Alginates ● Feed ● Production of green chemicals ● Biofuel ● Research on: ● Plant hormones ● Omega-3 ● Pharmaceuticals (e.g. Mannitol)
  • 13. If only...
  • 14. Food  Worldwide: largest use of seaweeds  Niche market in the Netherlands ● Import from Asia, France ● Organic segment ● Restaurants
  • 15. Niche developments
  • 16. And in major supermarket chain
  • 17. Thickener  Worldwide second-largest market  Up 1 million tonne seaweeds used  Value dependent on contents  Roughly 600 euro per ton DM  But alternatives available (tapioca, potatoes)
  • 18. Feed applications  Although traditional use, literature review shows seaweeds are better not fed directly  Addition to pre-mix of feed is possible  Calculation using Bestmix: Value (euro/100 kg 94%DM) Value (euro/tonne of DM) Laminaria digitata 0.00 0.00 Saccharina latissima 4.40 46.64 Palmaria palmate 11.50 121.90 Ulva lactuca 4.60 48.76
  • 19. Use as feed additive
  • 20. Green chemicals  Production of basic chemicals (aceton, butanol, ethanol)  High value chemicals Product Market value Production Value €/tonne Kg/tonne of dry seaweed €/tonne of dry seaweed Acetic acid 570 247 140 Butanol 707 123 87 Lactic acid 235 486 114 Propylene glycol 1,000 133 133 Citric acid 1,414 429 606
  • 21. Prospects  Human food offers highest value  Challenge to develop market for seaweed  Other current applications offer too low values  Some high value applications are foreseen, but under development  How to reduce costs and increase benefits?
  • 22. Conclusion  Reduce costs ● Improve production system (year round, two yields?) ● IMTA as alternative? ● Increase yield and control product characteristics ● Examine synergy with offshore wind
  • 23. Multi-use platforms  Synergy with offshore wind energy in construction and/or transport?
  • 24. Conclusion  Reduce costs ● Improve production system (year round, two yields?) ● IMTA as alternative? ● Increase yield and control product characteristics ● Examine synergy with offshore wind  Increase benefits: ● Look for combinations: high + low value ● Biorefinery required for high value applications ● And: bringing together different market actors
  • 25. Thank you For more information: sander.vandenburg@wur.nl