A US-based company announced this month its intention to grow and harvest seaweed in South Australia with Kangaroo Island earmarked as one of three initial sites to kick-start their million-dollar climate project.
CH4 Global’s first commercial scale facility will be in a joint venture with the Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation on the Yorke Peninsula, with a third site located at Port Lincoln.
The world-first initiative, led by CH4 Global, will see the company process species of seaweed as a supplement solution offered to dairy and beef cows to dramatically reduce methane emissions.
The work aims to focus on “urgently impacting” climate change within the next decade.
Yet for Kangaroo Island, the company says the project has the potential to create “huge” employment opportunities for all three of their first harvest sites, which include KI, Port Lincoln and Yorke Peninsula.
Funding of $3 million will allow the company to scale up its operations in South Australia and New Zealand, and begin the aquaculture and processing of a specific species of seaweed – Asparagopsis armata.
According to CH4 SA general manager Dr Adam Main, the recently raised capital will mean delivering on the company’s aim of developing trial sites in regional SA this year before commercial production begins.
Importantly, Dr Main said the environmental issues the company addresses with its technology was extensive.
“There are 1.5 billion cows in the world. Each year over the next two decades the greenhouse gas (GHG) output for those 1.5 billion cows is greater than the GHG output from China – the largest GHG emitter by country in the world.
“When added to feed, less than 100g per day, the processed seaweed can reduce methane emissions from cattle by up to 90 per cent,” he said.
The initial focus will address the market for dairy and beef cattle in Australia, New Zealand and California, which is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2030.
In Australia, CH4 Global has identified South Australia as the primary market, with the state set to become the centre of a new industry projected to be worth at least USD$200 million within the next five years.
“In addition to the huge environmental impact, the emergence of a seaweed industry in SA will deliver significant economic development and employment opportunities in regional SA with hundreds of jobs created over the next two to three years,” Dr Main explained.
“The development of a South Australian seaweed industry has been seen to be advantageous for some time and South Australia has a number of competitive advantages when it comes to this type of ocean farming.”
Meanwhile, CH4 Global was founded 18 months ago by an international team of senior scientists, proven technology entrepreneurs, and business executives from Australia, New Zealand and the US.
It already has a presence in South Australia and is supported by a grant from the state government’s Landing Pad scheme.
The company is noted as the only fully integrated provider of Asparagopsis-based livestock supplement products designed and structured to specifically deliver this new product with urgency.
Furthermore, the company has been working with SARDI for over a year on scaling Asparagopsis aquaculture. This work was supported by the Fisheries Research Development Corporation.
Funding has been provided by a select group of family offices and private investors from around the world and includes non-dilutive capital from leading government innovation groups.
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