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Powering the Blue Economy: Marine Energy at Kelp Farm Sites

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Marine energy (ME) has the potential to power businesses in the blue economy. Kelp farms are an emerging maritime market of the blue economy and are predicted to grow, but they are not currently using ME for their power needs. As the number and size of kelp farms increase, more offshore power will be needed onsite for operations, monitoring, and harvesting. ME devices such as tidal current energy converters and wave energy converters (WECs) may be used to supply power for these needs. This article assesses the status of kelp farming in the continental United States, investigates the electricity needs of kelp farms, and examinesthe feasibility of generating the required electricity from wave and tidal current energy. The United States currently has 165 kelp farms that have either active or pending permits. The farms use electricity for boat operations, kelp drying, environmental monitoring, offshore lighting, and the raising and lowering of lines. Most kelp farms are in protected, nearshore waters that do not have significant wave energy resources. The limited available wave energy could be used to power small devices, but WECs have not yet been developed for that application. Some kelp farms are in locations that feature significant tidal energy resources, but small tidal current energy converters that are compatible with existing farm operations are not yet commercially available. As low-power WECs and tidal current energy converters are developed, kelp farms could be research partners and early adopters of the new technologies, which would encourage their broader use by other blue economy businesses.

Keywords: aquaculture; blue economy; kelp farms; marine energy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 15, 2023

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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