The Blue Growth Farm
An innovative automated, modular and environmentally friendly multi-functional platform design for open sea farm installations of the Blue Growth Industry
Today, The Blue Growth Farm has been successfully completed after 46 months of activity.
This research project has been carried out by a Project Consortium coordinated by RINA and constituted by 13 partners from 5 European countries.
The further expansion of marine fish farming in coastal waters is limited by a lack of suitable sites, concerns about pollution, sustainability and, in many cases, regulatory issues and local community opposition.
The aim of Blue Growth Farm (BGF) was to overcome these limitations through the design of an efficient multi-functional offshore platform, combining modern automated fish production with the generation of renewable energy from wind, waves and solar.
The integration of the different sub-systems into one complex infrastructure, the shared use of assets, and the combination of various offshore energy generation resources make the multi-purpose offshore platform an efficient solution for both the offshore renewable energy and the marine fish farming industry.
Whilst various designs for offshore fish farming systems have been proposed over the years, so far none have had widespread uptake due to various concerns including their reliability to withstand harsh offshore conditions, unknown and unproven technology, the inherent difficulties in managing units to which access may be limited for long periods, security and, not the least, cost.
All of these concerns have been taken into account in the design of the BGF infrastructure.
Parallel to the infrastructure engineering design, the project also looked at the social acceptance of multi-use platforms by holding workshops with stakeholders and local communities in two selected locations, Reggio Calabria (Italy), and Islay (on the west coast of Scotland). This interaction provided valuable information on the key factors that most strongly influence public perception of such offshore systems that are helpful in guiding potential investors on how best to win local approval and support for their proposed activities.
During the project development, two scaled prototypes, one (1:40) for indoor (wave tank) testing, and the other (1:15), named AURORA, for outdoor (sea) testing, have been designed and validated by the BGF Consortium at Ecole Centrale (Nantes, FR) and at NOEL (Reggio Calabria, IT), respectively. Thanks to AURORA sensing capacity, the project Consortium reached an unprecedented awareness about the platform complexity in terms of stability, aerohydrodynamic interaction with the scaled wind turbine and coupling induced by the wave energy converter chambers. The outcomes of the testing phases, both indoor and outdoor ones, provided more realistic hints to optimize numerical models developed for reliable employment in the full-scale engineering infrastructure.
Regulatory aspects related to Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and compatibility with Marine Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD) of BGF Multipurpose Offshore Installation (MOI) have been investigated for the 3 EU Member States where the MOI potential installation was considered for design validation purposes, namely France, Gran Canaria and Scotland. Italy was also included in this analysis given that it hosted the BGF outdoor scaled prototype for testing at the Natural Laboratory of Ocean Engineering (NOEL) of Reggio Calabria.
The Blue Growth Farm project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement 774426 in the frameworks of food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research, and bioeconomy and Cross-cutting marine and maritime research