Raising shrimp with recycled heat

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
9 July 2007, at 1:00am

NETHERLANDS - In a happy marriage between gastronomy and sustainable development, two savvy Dutchmen have devised a way to tap waste heat from a power plant to raise tropical shrimp for the food market.

The year-old business is nestled next to a dune at the foot of the huge Eon power plant on the otherwise uninspiring industrial park at Rotterdam's port, known as the Maasvlakte. With only imposing factories and chemical plants, it seems an unlikely site for a place called the Happy Shrimp Farm.

"We installed a 2.5-kilometre pipeline to the power plant and we recover the residual heat from the industrial process, not the cooling water because that is not warm enough," said Gilbert Curtessi.

In an immense hangar, where sunlight filters through a white roof covering, houses 24 basins filled with sea water for the Pacific white shrimp, or Litopenaeus vannamei — billed as the species of choice for shrimp farming that has had great success elsewhere, notably Ecuador. The adult jumbo variety can grow to a meaty 10 centimetres.

The sea water, warmed by a complicated system fed by waste heat from the energy plant, is kept at 29ºC, the ideal temperature for the creatures native to tropical seas.

Curtessi and his business partner Bas Greiner, both energy conservation specialists, hope to sell a first symbolic batch, a modest kilo of shrimp, in September at a special auction — as the Dutch traditionally do at the start of the season for another delicacy, their beloved herring.

He says the farm will be the only firm in northern Europe that can deliver fresh tropical shrimp — they will not freeze, which affects flavour — so he forecasts no problem in selling the 60 tons they hope to produce annually.

The Dutch Agricultural Economic Institute said most shrimp in the Netherlands is now imported from Asia, often frozen, and Curtessi said restaurant owners are already awaiting his product.

"what is really innovative is not really the shrimps, but our approach," he said.