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SES acquires wild seaweed operation in Norway

December 18, 2013
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Brown kelp macroalgae could ultimately offer an almost unlimited global supply of commercial-quality ethanol or biomethane, says Paal Bakken, founder and CEO of Seaweed Energy Solutions (SES), based in Trondheim, Norway.

Brown kelp macroalgae could ultimately offer an almost unlimited global supply of commercial-quality ethanol or biomethane, says Paal Bakken, founder and CEO of Seaweed Energy Solutions (SES), based in Trondheim, Norway.

Trondheim, Norway-based Seaweed Energy Solutions (SES) has announced it has reached an agreement to buy all of Norway’s Biotrål AS in a deal that transforms SES’ position to one of Europe’s leading producers of seaweed.

The combination of SES and Biotrål, a major harvester of wild seaweed, opens up new business opportunities by immediately increasing volumes to supplement SES’ growing seaweed farming operations, improving logistics, boosting economies of scale and reducing the seasonal impact on production.

“Biotrål’s ships and its staff’s long experience at sea, combined with SES’ cultivation skills and infrastructure, is a powerful combination that makes sense,” said SES chief executive Pål Bakken. “Moving into the wild harvest business fits perfectly with SES’ strategy.”

Biotrål, based on the island of Frøya in Norway, owns two ships and operates all year long. “At Biotrål we were planning to expand the business and to start basic processing of the raw-material close to the source. By joining the SES team, we believe we can reach that goal quicker and jointly be a stronger force both operationally and in the market”, said Biotrål chief executive Hallgeir Bremnes.

Seeing market opportunities as it develops the production scale necessary for seaweed as an alternative energy source, SES has decided to adopt a flexible business approach by also offering seaweed products in other areas. The purchase of Biotrål marks an important step in that strategy.

“Our long term goal of making seaweed a competitive source of biomass for energy remains,” said Bakken. “However, there is strong demand for sustainable biomass for other purposes such as fish feed, animal feed and various chemicals – our focus now is to establish ourselves as a reliable supplier in that market.”

Since 2009 SES has invested about 13 million euros on developing low cost cultivation technology suitable for large-scale cultivation in both coastal and fully exposed waters. In Norway, SES is in the process of securing additional cultivation licenses to scale-up the operation. This year SES acquired the Danish cultivation business Seaweed Seed Supply AS. Over 286 Hectares of cultivation licenses have been secured and a 40,000 ton hatchery has been built, ready to supply the local seaweed industry in Denmark.

SES is currently in the process of securing funding for its continued expansion. Financial terms of the agreement with Biotrål were not disclosed.

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