by Dr Lu Jenn-Kan, National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan


The world-wide development of aquaculture

In 2014, the world fish supply reached 16.2 million tonnes, which represent 20kg of fish per person. It reached a new record, mostly due to the tremendous growth of aquaculture, which provides now almost half of the fish stock (73.8 million tonnes in 2014), while capture production is saturating since 1990.

Experts all agree that aquaculture will contribute significantly in the future to food security and adequate nutrition for a global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Intensive and closed aquaculture systems

Recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) represent a new and unique way to farm fish. Instead of the traditional method of growing fish outdoors in open ponds, this system rears fish at high densities, in indoor tanks with a "controlled" environment. Recirculating systems filter and clean the water for recycling back through fish culture tanks.

RAS offer fish producers a variety of important advantages over open pond culture. These include a method to maximise production on a limited supply of water and land, nearly complete environmental control to maximise fish growth year-round, the flexibility to locate production facilities near large markets, complete and convenient harvesting, and quick and effective disease control.

Alternative renewable energy for aquaculture

One of the fundamental issues facing all of us today is proper management of our energy resources. The current generation has a responsibility to ensure that energy is used efficiently and with minimum impact on the environment.

As considerations of fuel diversity, market uncertainties and environmental concerns are increasingly factored into electric utility resource planning, renewable energy technologies are beginning to find their place in the utility resource portfolio.

Most countries in Southeast Asia, they are experiencing strong economic and population growth. Its energy demand is currently increasing by ten percent each year and the competition for land use is growing as a result.

Some scholars have proposed to reduce fuel energy by apply renewable green energy sources such as solar and wind power. Fossil-based fuels are less cost-effective than renewable energies; energy is of little concern for the majority of the industry, and renewable energies are of potential use in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). In this project, we also want to demonstrate that dual land use for aquaculture and photovoltaics can solve these systemic problems.

The electricity charge accounts for about 20-40 percent of the total production cost of aquaculture, and the average monthly electricity consumption is more than 2,000 kilowatt hours.

In view of this, as well as the advent of the era of high energy prices and the trend of energy saving and carbon reduction, it is necessary to encourage farmers to use highly efficient electrical appliances, and encourage farmers, fish and livestock to make good use of solar energy, wind power and other self-generating ways to reduce CO2 emissions.

The Aqua-PV greenhouse is 80L X 20W X 4.5H and the rooftop can install up to an incredible 720 solar panels; the generating power is about 407,808 kilowatts/year.

Smart Aqua-PV greenhouse system

Taiwan is located in the subtropical region, with long sunshine duration and small solar deflection angle. It is estimated that the average amount of sunshine per unit area is 129W/m2, which is very suitable for the development of solar energy. Furthermore, the cost of solar power generation materials will decrease.

The design of Aqua-PV greenhouse systems includes a rooftop solar photovoltaic module, recirculating water system, water quality parameters monitoring system, double effect energy-saving aeration pump and LED lighting equipment.

The Aqua-PV greenhouse system (APVGS) integrates the solar-farm and fish-farm to reduce the extra energy input. According to initial analyses, the one-megawatt pilot plant in Taiwan should reduce CO2 emissions by about 15,000 metric tonnes each year and cut water consumption by 75 percent compared to that of a conventional fish farm.

This aqua voltaic pilot plant is testing the technical and commercial feasibility of dual land use for solar power generation and commercial aquaculture purposes.

Smart recirculating raceway aquaculture system

For reasons of hygiene, more and more aquaculture facilities in Taiwan and China
are covered with closed greenhouses to prevent the introduction of diseases by birds or other aquatic animals. These canopies allow the integration of solar modules.

We consider on-land fish or shrimp farming in closed systems to be a promising approach to the careful use of land and water resources in the region. This more efficient use of land helps to preserve the remaining mangrove forests and significantly reduces water consumption.

In addition, the use of antibiotics is reduced to a minimum thanks to the sealed environment and the biofloc system, where the aquatic animals are fed on micro-organisms in a closed loop. By providing shade, the solar modules integrated into the housing improve working conditions for the employees at the facility. They also offer protection from predators and maintain an optimal water temperature enhancing fish and shrimp growth.

ICT and AIOT technology for precise aquaculture

To enhance and improve aquaculture production by IOT technologies that pulls data from various sensors and satellites, the massive data recovered from such sensors is put to use to make aquaculture operations more efficient and eco-friendlier using cloud-based analytic software tools.

In this smart Aqua-PV project, we employ AIOT technology and biotechnology strategies to revolutionise aquaculture.

  • Advanced monitoring of environmental water quality by AIOT technology:
    Using ICT and AIOT technology the operator has a full overview of water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, salinity, NH3 etc. which can be constantly monitored. Early warning systems and water quality conditioning equipment adjusters are included
  • Automatic species recognition, weight determination and precise feeding
    We demonstrated that using a vision-based biometic system can automatically recognise fish species and measure the body length to then convert to body weight.
    The concept of precision feeding systems is using highly digestible feed sources in a controlled feeding environment with an emphasis on feed efficiency, reducing daily ration costs, and minimising faeces output
  • On-line diagnosis systems for fish diseases:
    Rapid and accurate diagnosis is required to control such diseases, prevent their spread and limit excessive use of antibiotics. IoT technology and a clinical sign-based diagnosis aid system is applied by sending infected animals' images, text description through a mobile phone to the diagnosis centre.
    To implement the designed diagnosis process, fish disease databases and disease cause/prevention/treatment databases were established. Information such as cause of disease, diagnosis, treatment and prevention method of candidate disease are provided as a medical advice through internet to user PC or mobile devices. This system will support fish farmers and veterinarians by providing easy and rapid diagnosis of fish diseases.

This project demonstrates the added value that can be generated by integrating photovoltaics into different areas of life. This is particularly true for aquaculture, for this Aqua-PV system, we estimate that the land use rate can be almost doubled compared with a ground-mounted PV system alone in other places within the southern part of Taiwan.

This project aims to develop a solution not only for big plants but also for small and medium-sized aquaculture businesses. This will make the approach accessible for the average rural inhabitant in terms of the technology and investment needed.

The market launch of the Aqua-PV technology combined with the efforts of local partners should help drive improvements to energy security in the region as well as boosting its economy. With aquaculture and photovoltaics experiencing rapid growth worldwide, the project team believes that their approach has a lot to offer for many other developing and industrialising nations.

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