Offshore breezes prove windfall for fisheries

Mixed project facilities spur both green goals, seafood sector

By ZHENG XIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-11 10:07
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A view of the world's first wind-fishery integrated floating platform near Nanri Island off Fujian province in June. CAI HAO/FOR CHINA DAILY

As the offshore wind sector booms in China, opportunities are also arising beneath the whirring blades and churning turbines.

Eyeing massive marine resources, turbine manufacturers across the country are stepping up efforts to integrate new energy projects with aquaculture farms, where fish, lobsters and crabs coexist with wind turbines, blades and cable routes, further promoting marine biodiversity.

Longyuan Power, a subsidiary of China Energy Investment Corp — the world's largest power producer and the top wind power developer in terms of installed capacity — recently put into operation the world's first wind-fishery integrated floating platform near Nanri Island off Fujian province, which will co-deploy floating turbines and deep-sea fish farming equipment.

The project, pioneering a new marine economic development model that combines underwater fish farming and above-water power generation in the field of floating offshore wind power, will take better advantage of surrounding marine resources, it said.

Consisting of a 4-megawatt floating wind turbine and 10,000 cubic meters of aquaculture water volume, the project is capable of generating 96,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day, which can meet the daily electricity needs of about 42,000 households while boosting income from batches of fishery products, thus representing win-win cooperation between the development of new energy and the traditional marine economy, said Chen Yong, deputy director of Longyuan's Fujian subsidiary.

With remote monitoring and unattended operation, the intelligent deep-sea aquaculture equipment allows remote and intuitive observation of the state of the sealife populations, he said.

Longyuan said the electricity generated by the offshore wind turbine also ensures the safe and stable operation of the aquaculture equipment, solving the common problems of "insufficient power supply and unstable power supply" in traditional marine ranching.

Industry experts are optimistic about the integration of offshore wind and marine ranching, seeing the project — China's latest bid to combine offshore wind and fish farming — as a synergistic approach to sustainable development.

Combining wind power with aquaculture or ranching could benefit companies on both sides, leading to more resilient and diversified food systems, said Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.

"While aquaculture firms can take advantage of turbine bases as a stable and sustainable environment to anchor fish cages or rope-and-raft systems for growing shellfish and kelp, any power needed to run the aquaculture farm or marine ranch could also be drawn directly from the turbines," Luo said.

"For the wind power firms, making fuller use of the site would reduce maintenance costs while they can make extra profits by selling the power generated to aquaculture firms."

By combining renewable energy with aquaculture, China is demonstrating a holistic approach to addressing environmental challenges, while the combination could also help China make better use of its ocean resources, he added.

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