Water availability in the future is not an isolated issue. In combination with factors such as climate change and a growing global population, it results in complex interactions with food and energy supplies.


Seaweed is a promising product for coping with rising demand for food and energy from the growing world population. In the right conditions, the yield per hectare is high and there is no need for resources such as land, fresh water or fertiliser. The Dutch market for seaweed is still in its infancy, particularly in terms of human consumption. However, influenced by Asia, where seaweed cultivation is already up and running and in the light of future trends, it is very likely that this market will develop very quickly.

In the past year, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), TNO, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Deltares were involved in joint research looking at opportunities for Dutch businesses to cultivate seaweed offshore in the North Sea. It emerged that there is considerable potential for the future in the right conditions. That is why the five research institutes, together with the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), have launched a programme of further studies of gaps in our knowledge and technology in the seaweed chain, from cultivation to transportation and storage, refining and marketing the final products. This programme will be designed in consultation with the business sector.

A foundation has also been established, the 'North Sea Farm'. It has now brought together a large number of stakeholders such as growers, suppliers, banking institutions and research institutions. This non-profit organisation aims to establish a sustainable seaweed sector in the Netherlands.

Deltares has been contracted by the North Sea Farm foundation to work on an 'Aquaculture Atlas'. It describes the conditions upon which agriculture depends for the entire Dutch section of the North Sea: the availability of nutrients, temperature fluctuations, wave loads and human activities such as shipping routes, wind farms or protected areas.

Our core business really is the identification and the establishment of the right conditions such as offshore engineering, modelling capacity and the multiple use of space. So we can make a fundamental contribution to what is a relatively new form of aquaculture in the Netherlands.
Luca van Duren
Deltares Expert Zee en Kust Systemen
The role of Deltares was unique and indispensable because of our integrated knowledge of the sea: understanding of currents, waves, and ecology. = The role of Deltares was unique and indispensable because of their integrated knowledge of the sea: understanding of currents, waves, and ecology.
Floris Groenendijk
Programmamanager Zeewier bij de Wageningen Research

For this project Deltares has collaborated with the following partners:

  • TNO
  • ECN
  • NIOZ
  • Wageningen UR
  • Technische Universiteit Delft
Food luca

Want to know more about this project?

Luca van Duren
Expert Zee en Kust Systemen
  • +31 (0)6 20 20 32 43