Off the Trøndelag coast, plants are grown that can become a new large-scale industry in Norway. In the nutrient-rich seawater at Frøya, Seaweed Energy Solutions is in the process of establishing kelp production on a large scale.
- Only sun and seawater are input factors in the growth phase, explains marine biologist and hatchery manager Andreas Quale Lavik in Seaweed Energy Solutions.
- We are still at the pilot stage, but the ambition is that we will have an industrial scale. But it takes time, says Lavik.
Over the next decades, seaweed and kelp harvesting can grow to become a billion-dollar industry in Norway, SINTEF points out in a new report prepared for NHO. The report presents a total of 24 proposals for value chains that can contribute to new business activities in the future.
All the proposals are presented at the bottom of this case
Ten years after its establishment, Seaweed Energy Solutions has reached an annual production of around 40 tonnes of kelp. In the long term, the target is several thousand tonnes.
- We will develop the technology to make it possible, says Lavik.
The company invests heavily in research and development and is currently involved in six different research projects in Norway and in the EU.
- We put a lot of energy and money into acquiring knowledge, says Lavik.
Value chain for the future
Most of the kelp grown in the world today goes to human food or animal feed. Seaweed from Frøya is used, for example, for everything from gourmet restaurants to producers of pesto, beer and cosmetics. Seaweed can also be used as an input factor in bioplastics or as a fuel in the production of bioenergy.
- You can drive a plane on it, replace plastic, make shoes, sandals and toothbrushes. It's so incredibly useful. And we do not seize more land, says Lavik.
Measured in volume, kelp production is the largest aquaculture industry in the world. Currently, most of the production takes place in Asia, only a very small proportion takes place here at home.
Production and harvesting of seaweed and kelp can, however, become an important industry in Norway in the future. A recent report prepared by SINTEF on behalf of NHO launches the harvesting of marine plants as one of a total of 24 possible value chains that can contribute to new business activities in Norway in the future.
Common to all value chains is that they provide market opportunities at home and abroad - and that Norway has special advantages to build on. The value chains are also assessed against how they contribute to solving societal challenges and to meeting the UN's sustainability goals.
The report, which is the first in the NHO project «Roadmap for the business community of the future», emphasizes that there may also be many other potential value chains that can contribute to new business activities. The idea of the report is to present a selection of possible value chains that can help to raise awareness and stimulate debate on how the best possible way to facilitate future business life in Norway.
The long coastline, with a favorable temperature level and rich nutrient content in the seawater, makes Norway particularly suitable for the production and harvesting of kelp. Norway can also gain an advantage by standardizing and automating technology for cultivation, SINTEF points out in the report.
Seaweed can also play a key role in reducing climate emissions:
∙ Seaweed is particularly suitable for sequestering CO2. Theoretically, a cultivation field of around 18,000 square meters in the Norwegian Sea can sequester CO2 corresponding to Norway's annual emissions, SINTEF has previously calculated.
∙ Seaweed can also be grown in interaction with farming activities. Seaweed utilizes the nutrients that are released from fish farms and can help remove nitrate and phosphate in areas with fish farming.
∙ Seaweed also has potential as a protein source in animal feed and in the feeding of protein-rich insect larvae and in the production of abalone, which are large snails that are sold as delicacies. Seaweed mixed with animal feed also reduces methane production in the rumen of ruminants, and thus contributes to lower emissions of greenhouse gases.
- It is a rather magical raw product. When we go to work, we keep in mind that we are engaged in environmentally positive food production. There are not many others who can do that, says Lavik.
More legs to stand on
If the standard of living in Norway is to be maintained in the years ahead, new businesses must be established. Income from the oil business will flatten out and eventually fall, at the same time as the costs of pensions will increase. In order to fill this income gap, already established value chains must grow, but new ones will probably also have to be developed.
- We need new business in Norway. Therefore, the work that Seaweed Energy Solutions and other companies contribute to the development of new industries could be absolutely central in the future, says NHO President Arvid Moss.
Moss points out that the business community of the future must be sustainable - financially, socially and for the environment.
- Our legitimacy as a business community will be determined by how we respond to this. We must be able to engage and create enthusiasm for jobs and investments, when they are done in a sustainable way. The UN's sustainability goals and not least the EU's strategy for growth and jobs, where sustainability is also a key element, will be important for Norwegian business and industry in the future. As Norway's largest trading partner, the EU's priorities are key, says the NHO president.
The 24 value chains that SINTEF proposes in the report are therefore categorized according to the six main challenges that the EU has identified.
- The 24 proposals are an attempt to look up a little - and reflect on the opportunities that exist to develop completely new industries and value chains in Norway. This is not intended as an exhaustive list. The future is difficult to predict. New opportunities and challenges can change the picture. But we hope the proposals can contribute to a discussion on how we can in the best possible way facilitate that new and sustainable value chains can grow in Norway, says Moss.
Translated from original article.