LIFE13 ENV/ES/000420

Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version  

Contact details:

Contact person: Maribel RODRÍGUEZ
Tel: 003491 241 95 31
Fax: 34917710854
Email: maribel.rodriguez@ariema.com

Project description:


Around 50% of fishing products consumed in the world today come from aquaculture and this percentage is set to increase; for example, marine aquaculture production is expected to increase more than 20 times by 2050 (FAO, 2010). Over the coming years, however, developing countries will cease to be net exporters to the more developed countries (such as EU Member States) as they will supply increasing amounts of food to their domestic markets.

Nevertheless, the average consumption of fish products per inhabitant in the EU is 23.3 kg/year, considerably higher than the global average of 18 kg/year. These figures underscore the need to increase the number of aquaculture facilities in Europe to supply citizens with good quality food, without producing a negative impact on natural resources. The main environmental impacts of aquaculture relate to energy and water consumption, use of raw materials, and eutrophication of water systems due to the discharge of pollutants.


The objective of LIFE-AQUASEF was to demonstrate and promote the use of innovative, low-emission technologies in the aquaculture sector. In particular, the project aimed to implement technologies to increase the environmental sustainability of the cultivation cycle of fish and salt-water molluscs. The project aimed to make facilities more self-sufficient in terms of energy and oxygen for aerating the tanks, and to reduce their overall environmental impact through effluent treatment and carbon dioxide (CO2) fixation. Specifically, the project aimed to demonstrate optimised energy consumption by implementing best management practices and renewable energy sources; the environmental advantages of using hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the aquaculture sector; best practices for aeration and oxygenation in aquaculture; and the possibilities for fixing the CO2 emitted by microalgae cultivation. The project sought to demonstrate how microalgae have an added value, as food for fish and molluscs and through their water purification role.


The LIFE-AQUASEF project demonstrated the feasibility and efficiency of a set of innovative and eco-efficient technologies in the aquaculture sector. These resulted in both a reduction in energy consumption and economic savings. This was due to the installation of renewable energy sources, the development of efficient aerators for oxygenating fish tanks, and the self-production of oxygen, hydrogen (energy storage) and microalgae as feed.

The project team installed a range of renewable energy systems, namely, thermal, wind, photovoltaic and stand-alone ‘plug & play’ photovoltaic, and demonstrated their technical feasibility and economic viability in a commercial fish farm.

Through the construction and installation of an electolyser, the project showed that the use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies can be useful as a back-up source of energy for aquaculture facilities, especially in remote areas. The use of the oxygen produced and technical improvements made in the aerators reduced the need to purchase industrial oxygen for fish breeding operations, thus saving on production costs. Oxygen produced by electrolysis was 6.7 t O2/year at the demonstration facility, while 80% savings in oxygen consumption were achieved due to improved aeration techniques. This resulted in up to 16 t/year less oxygen being purchased, at a cost saving of 30 000 €/year. The developed prototypes for the aeration of the hatchery and the open ponds showed a high efficiency and are very competitive in comparison with the models available on the market.

LIFE-AQUASEF demonstrated the fixation of CO2 produced through microalgae cultivation, both at a small scale using photobioreactors and at a larger scale by developing an open raceway pond. It was shown that the microalgae in the open raceway pond can contribute to the treatment of the effluents produced in other areas of the fish farm.

The project reduced total energy consumption by 50%, due to the installation of renewable energy sources and the implementation of best practices in the fish farm. This reduced the consumption of fossil fuels. The use of self-produced oxygen and microalgae reduced the need to buy commercial oxygen and fish food, respectively, therefore also reducing associated GHG emissions. For their demonstrated system, the project team calculated direct and indirect CO2 emissions reductions of 35 t CO2 equivalent/year, and direct and indirect savings in energy consumption of 110 MWh/year.

The project actively disseminated its results, and details of the technologies it developed, throughout the European aquaculture sector. Several fish farms, both in Spain and Portugal, have already shown interest in replicating some of the demonstrated technologies (e.g. aerators, photovoltaic ‘plug & play’). The sustainability of the project is ensured, as all the technologies remain in operation at the demonstration Esteros de Canela fish farm in southern Spain.

LIFE-AQUASEF is relevant to climate change policies, as it fosters the use of renewable energies and other environmentally-friendly practices in the aquaculture sector and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC). It is in line with the Common Fisheries Policy, by promoting sustainable aquaculture as an alternative to overfishing, Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of European aquaculture, and the Spanish Strategic Plan for the innovation of marine aquaculture 2014-2020. By implementing eco-efficient technologies, such as the recovery and re-use of resources and wastes, the project also contributes to the European Circular Economy Strategy.

The demonstrated cost savings and technological improvements led to product diversification and increased the competitiveness of the fish farm. This could result in more jobs in aquaculture and the stabilisation of rural populations. The project also increased the competitiveness of the participating beneficiaries in their business sectors.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Climate change Mitigation - Energy efficiency
Climate change Mitigation - Renewable energies
Water - Water quality improvement


fishing industry‚  energy saving‚  food production‚  greenhouse gas‚  pollutant elimination‚  marine environment‚  renewable energy

Target EU Legislation

  • Marine environment and Coasts
  • Directive 2008/56 - Framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (M ...
  • Climate Change & Energy efficicency
  • Directive 2009/28 - Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (23.04.2009)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ariema Energia y Medioambiente S.L.
Type of organisation SME Small and medium sized enterprise
Description ARIEMA, a technological spin-off of the Spanish institute for aerospace technologies (INTA), was founded in 2002. It has participated in R&D projects on energy efficiency, energy uses and energy storage. In particular, it is a leader in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies as well as a specialist in carrying out efficiency-energy studies of the fishing industry. It also has a wealth of experience is carrying out energy audits in this sector. It has performed energy audits in fishing vessels – in cooperation with efficiency energy institute of the region of Galicia (INEGA) – in aquaculture plants and in other primary sector industries.


Project reference LIFE13 ENV/ES/000420
Duration 02-JUN-2014 to 30-JUN -2017
Total budget 1,899,318.00 €
EU contribution 919,744.00 €
Project location Galicia(España) Asturias(España) Cantabria(España) País Vasco(España) Navarra(España) Rioja(España) Aragón(España) Madrid(España) Castilla-León(España) Castilla-La Mancha(España) Extremadura(España) Cataluña(España) Comunidad Valenciana(España) Baleares(España) Andalucía(España) Murcia(España) Ceuta y Melilla(España) Canarias(España)


Read more:

Leaflet "AQUASEF: Mejora ambiental de la actividad acuicol ...
Leaflet "Eco efficient technologies development for enviro ...
Leaflet "AQUASEF: Mejora ambiental de la actividad acuícol ...
Leaflet "AQUASEF: Eco-efficient Technologies development f ...
Leaflet "AQUASEF: Eco-efficient technologies development f ...
Poster AQUASEF Poster (5.52 MB)
Poster "International seminar on Aquaculture eco-efficien ...
Poster "Tecnologías del Hidrógeno aplicadas a la acuicult ...
Poster "AQUASEF: Mejora ambiental de la actividad acuícol ...
Poster "Seminarion internacional sobre tecnologias ecoefi ...
Poster "AQUASEF project" (5.51 MB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Communication Plan After-LIFE Communication Plan
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Guía Práctica de implementación de nuevas tecnolo ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Practical guide on the implementation of new tech ...
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report "Dossier técnico AQUASEF: Mejora ambiental de la a ...
Publication: Technical report "Aquasef technical report: Environmental improveme ...
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Video link "AQUASEF Project: Environmental improvement in aquaculture activities through the development of eco-efficient technologies" [EN - 4'12]
Video link "Proyecto Aquasef: Mejora ambiental de la actividad acuícola a través del desarrollo de tecnologías eco-efficentes" [ES - 4'12]


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version