This is the second blog in our 4-part series all about Kelp. In our last blog, we introduced the product of kelp as a cost-efficient way to reduce CO2. Now we continue to explore the many other benefits of Kelp...
How accessible is kelp and how does it grow?
Kelp is found in cold, shallow, coastal marine waters around the world.
It grows very quickly and requires zero input, including no fertiliser or weeding.
Kelp can grow a lot faster than trees, in fact a kelp farm and coastal marine system can absorb CO2 at rates up to 50 times greater than forests on land. This is due to the high rates of photosynthesis and larger area coverage. And when the algae dies, any CO2 still locked within the kelp sinks towards the ocean bed.
China produces over half of the continent's harvest each year. However, now seaweed farming is starting to become more common in other parts of the world.
A recent study found that 48 million square kilometres of the world's oceans are suitable for seaweed cultivation!
What are the impacts on areas where kelp grows?
Simple aesthetics prevent pushback from people who see the ocean as an agricultural space because kelp grows vertically downwards, in a similar way to mussels.
Kelp doesn't just reduce CO2, it also helps grow sea-life around it. It becomes a habitat to many sea creatures. Kelp provides shellfish with abundant food, and shells, which are difficult to decompose, become reliable storage for carbon.
Some scientists even say that fish farming will be unnecessary if enough kelp forests can be built in the ocean. They agree that kelp not only helps to reduce CO2, but that it also rejuvenates sea-life, and cleans the ocean.
Is Kelp expensive to grow?
No. Besides its sustainability benefits, it is cheap, easy to harvest and available worldwide, making it an attractive commercial proposition.
How is kelp actively being used to counter-act climate change?
As we now know, kelp is being used for many things - as a key ingredient in commercial products, as a food product with health benefits, as a fertiliser, and also as a means to replace conventional fuel. Let's look at a few specific examples...
Did you know... that a small amount of seaweed in cattle feed could reduce methane emissions from beef cattle as much as 82 percent, according to new findings from researchers at the University of California, Davis.
Did you know... that in Hamburg, Germany, a house has been powered entirely by algae since 2013? Algae are incorporated directly into its walls and the energy created by the plants' photosynthesis is used to warm the rooms and water, presenting approximate annual savings of €1000 on utility bills. Find out more by clicking here.
Did you know... that seaweed like kelp can also play a huge role in fighting climate change by creating biofuel and renewable plastics. During the oil crisis in the1980s, seaweed was identified as an alternative source of oil, however the funding for seaweed biofuel significantly reduced after just a year, when the oil crisis ended and prices dropped back down to affordable levels.
So, what could kelp farming mean for the shipping industry? In the next blog, we will explore this in more detail.
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