In 2019, Måsøval won the competition for four licences that are important to the development of new technology. The Aqua Semi concept consists of 4,000 tonnes of stainless steel and innovative solutions that make it possible to operate aquaculture in new, more exposed waters.
Aqua Semi is a semi-submersible, semi-closed production unit for salmon made of steel. The unit has sealed steel walls to a depth of 25 meters and all operational functions are integrated. This significantly reduces the risk of escape, lice and other waterborne pathogens, which will contribute to better fish health and more rapid growth.
Once completed, Aqua Semi will be located at Fagerholmen in the Frøyfjord. Although this area has strong ocean currents that ensure a good supply of fresh, nutritious water, there are also climatic challenges that make it unsuitable for small, traditional facilities.
Although Aqua Semi was built to handle harsh weather conditions, the industry has experienced that big facilities can have completely unique challenges: the forces of nature are bigger, and separate equipment must be developed to meet the requirements.
Together with Vard and other partners, we've put great effort into the design process to handle these challenges, and to ensure good integration of equipment and good fish welfare throughout the production phase.
We have conducted extensive studies to uncover the biological requirements for water quality in a semi-closed unit with major biomass, as well as to uncover which measures ensure a good aquatic environment in fluctuating production conditions.
The unit's design is finally complete and testing of the prototype was conducted in a seawater pool at Sintef Ocean in spring 2020, with independent design verification subsequently carried out by DNV GL.
The project has been developed with Vard, a global player in the design and building of ships and specialised vessels. Today, Vard has 8,200 employees with its head office in Norway and building facilities in Norway, Romania, Brazil and Vietnam. The biggest stakeholder in Vard is the Italian group Fincantieri S.p.A.
In Q2 2021, fundamental design work on the project is set to be completed. The next step is the building contract, which we have planned to enter into in Q3 2021. The unit will then be launched in 2023, and the first generation of production is planned to start in early 2024.
The production cycle will be <10 months if the project is successful, and two test generations will be completed during the period 2024–2026. If the project is successful in terms of biology and its design concept, a harvest of 2 500–3 000 tonnes will be completed per year in the foreseeable future.
Completion of the project will add new expertise on big and challenging projects to the company, and contribute to a growth in production from 2024 onwards.