The multi-partner H2OCEAN project aims to develop a design proposition for an offshore platform that harnesses as many potential uses from the surrounding marine environment as possible, including renewable energy generation and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture production (IMTA).
At a time of increasing pressures on our vulnerable marine environment, the integrated concept will look at ways of using the ocean and the synergies between different industry sectors in an efficient and sustainable manner.
Seventeen partners from five European countries are participating in the project. Fusion Marine, the Scottish based aquaculture equipment supplier and consultant, will focus its expertise in developing a design for an IMTA unit on the platform so as to achieve a natural balance in the management of the water area.
Also involved in the aquaculture element are project manager Viking Fish Farms, the Scottish aquaculture research and experimental station; Chlamys, an Italian SME specialising in the ecology and environmental impact of aquaculture systems; and Sustainable Technologies, a Spanish engineering company involved in waste and biomass treatment.
The combined brief includes designing a system for the combined culture of finfish, seaweed and shellfish in a novel ‘ecosystem’ approach to marine farming. Seaweed, for example, reduces excessive nutrients in the water, which in turn will benefit other fish and shellfish being farmed. Incorporated into the design concept will be the facility on the platform to process the farmed seafood, including the implementation of biodigesters to handle and recycle waste products.
Other parts of the project will look at energy production such as wind and wave power, as well as the conversion of energy into hydrogen that can be stored and shipped to shore. Three sites have been selected to develop and test the H2OCEAN design.
· A North Atlantic Ocean site, with energetic wave resource.
· A North Sea site, with excellent wind resource and requirement for an alternative aquaculture solution.
· A Mediterranean Sea site, with relatively benign wind and wave resource, and a different aquaculture combination.
Specific combinations of the types of fish, shellfish and seaweed species to be cultured at each site have been determined and full production programmes developed (stocking levels, feed and growth rates, harvesting schedules, containment requirements, etc.)
The overall aim is to develop a conceptual model that will increase public awareness and inform different stakeholders of the potential advantages of the future development of offshore multi-use platforms. It is envisaged that the final design concepts will be completed later this year.
Stephen Divers, managing director of Fusion Marine, said: “We are delighted to be part of this incredibly exciting challenge to develop new designs utilising a combination of different activities that results in synergies for a better use of ocean space and its precious resources.
“We believe H2OCEAN has the potential to revolutionise the way we produce seafood and it could prove to be an important new chapter in the future of our industry.”
The H2OCEAN project will be featured on the Fusion Marine stand at the Aquaculture UK 2014 exhibition in Aviemore, Scotland, on 28 and 29 May. Viking Fish Farms will also have a stand, and during the conference session at Aviemore, Fusion Marine will be making a joint presentation on H2OCEAN with Gino Bawn of project partner IT Power Ltd.
H2OCEAN is a project co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (FP72007-2013), under grant agreement no. 288145, within the Ocean of Tomorrow joint call 2011.