The economic feasibility of seaweed production in the North Sea

Burg, Sander W.K. van den; Duijn, Arie Pieter van; Bartelings, Heleen; Krimpen, Marinus M. van; Poelman, Marnix


Seaweeds are increasingly seen as an alternative to land-grown products in food and feed applications. Interest in production of seaweeds in temperate waters is rising, in particular in combination with offshore wind energy generation. This article reports an investigation of the economic feasibility of seaweed production in the North Sea using economic modelling. Often, an overly positive picture of the costs and benefits of seaweed production is sketched. Based on current available information, offshore seaweed production in the North Sea is not economically feasible. Sensitivity analysis shows that revenues would have to increase by roughly 300%, all other things equal, to make a profit. A number of opportunities to improve the economic feasibility of a North Sea seaweed value chain are identified. Technical innovation and the design of systems that enable multiple harvests per year can reduce production costs. Successful marketing of seaweed as human food, and the development of biorefinery concepts can increase the value of the produced seaweed.