State-owned energy giant China Three Gorges (CTG) will build a pioneering combined offshore wind and fish farming development in China’s Bohai Bay, according to tender documents.

The Laizhou Bay wind farm will be the first offshore wind project in Shandong province, and the first in the country to demonstrate the benefits of combining offshore wind and aquaculture technology.

Construction of 91 turbines is expected to begin this year and be completed by 2021.

The CNY 5 billion ($700 million/€639 million) project is among an array of pilot demonstrations planned by the Shandong government to unite offshore wind and aqua farming. The northern province – a major seafood producer – has ambitions to build 13GW of offshore wind eventually, but has yet to put up any, partially due to fears of damage to its valuable seafood industry.

The province earlier this year unveiled plans to deploy aquaculture pilot projects in the Yellow Sea and Bo Sea waters, hoping to pave the way for its offshore ambitions, IntraFish sister site Recharge previously reported.

CTG plans to turn the turbines’ fixed-bottom foundations into “micro islands” and build six artificial reefs surrounding them to breed oysters, sea cucumbers and several types of fish.

China is in “urgent need” of wind-and-aquaculture hybrid operations to “test the impacts of wind energy on ocean farming," oceanology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Science, Yang Hongsheng, said in a recent article calling for the development of such projects.

Lack of power supply is a key bottleneck for China’s aquaculture development in the sea, he pointed out, whereas wind developers face the challenge of high building and maintenance costs for offshore turbines. An integrated business model between the two may provide a win-win solution for both industries.