According to Dr Stefan Kraan, manager of the Irish Seaweed Centre in Galway, the potential of seaweed in the energy sector is being investigated, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The Energy Ireland conference brought to light the fact that the country is falling behind the rest of Europe in terms of generating biofuels, but that seaweed and algae may hold the key.

Scientific developments have pointed to seaweed as a potential energy resource and an alternative to Ireland’s current wind and wave power resources.

Communications minister Eamon Ryan commented: “Ireland will certainly be at a serious advantage if someone does crack the seaweed conundrum.

“The one thing we do have after all is a lot of ocean out there.”

In addition, Dr Kraan claimed that using algae as a fuel would have an added benefit of doing away with the negative image of land-based biomass resources.

Around 16,000 tonnes of the brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum are harvested in Ireland each year, according to seaweed.ie.

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