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Marine biomass offers a huge opportunity as an indigenous renewable energy source in the NPP region. It also provides the potential for sustainable employment opportunities in coastal areas.

The brown seaweed Laminaria hyperborean – more commonly called ‘kelp’ – can be used to produce methane. This can then be used to generate electricity.

Cultivating marine biomass (in contrast to terrestrial biomass) for energy production means that agricultural land may need to be used to produce fuel rather than food. However, because of the volume requirements of marine feed stocks, it is likely that open water cultivation will in fact be considered (see Figure 1). And because marine algae contain no lignin and little cellulose, they show high conversion efficiencies and rapid conversion rates. Finally, the waste nutrients from the process can later be used in the agricultural sector, adding value to the total process.

Care will be taken within RASLRES to ensure environmental concerns are assessed.

Figure 1

RASLRES research into the use of marine biomass as a source of energy is ongoing. However, here are some useful links to projects currently undertaking research on the topic:

  • An EU project dedicated to biogas from algae/seaweed collected from Baltic Sea beaches: http://wabproject.pl/en/ and in particular this report entitled Seaweed and Algae as a Natural Resource and a Renewable Energy Source http://bit.ly/qfxqQe
  • The Sustainable Fuels from Marine Biomass project, BioMara, is a new UK and Irish joint project that aims to demonstrate the feasibility and viability of producing third generation biofuels from marine biomass: http://www.biomara.org/