‘Photosynthesis at its best’: Cyanotech adds two new solar systems
Cyanotech has doubled-down on its commitment to renewable energy with the recent addition of two new solar systems to power operations at its 96-acre aquaculture farm in Kailua-Kona.
The new solar arrays recently went live at the Natural Energy Laboratory Authority of Hawaii Authority site, and combined with the already existing 2,280-panel array installed in 2014, will create enough energy annually to offset 200 cars on the road — or over 950 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The first array, which became operational in February, provides energy for the research and developmental facilities and laboratories. The second solar array provides energy for the CO2 extraction facilities, which extracts the oil that’s used for health supplement products.
The addition of the 420-watt rooftop solar systems, besides reducing emissions and costs for Cyanotech, also helps to bolster the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which strives to make Hawaii 100% clean energy by 2045.
“Cyanotech is committed to and is in alignment with the State of Hawaii’s goal to achieve 100% renewable energy,” Gerald Cysewski, CEO of Cyanotech, said.
Cyanotech, established in 1984, is a microalgae producing land that uses large ponds, designed to mimic an open raceway, to produce health supplements that are shipped around the world.
BioAstin, Hawaiian Astaxanthin and Spirulina, the company’s main products, are derived from the microalgae grown at the farm, in conditions that are 85 degrees and sunny, with limited rainfall and consistent temperatures.
“It’s photosynthesis at its best,” Jen Johansen, VP of Quality, regulatory and government affairs at Cyanotech said.
More, before the farm was established, the large ponds were part of Native Hawaiian culture.
“Before the lava came down into this area, it was used as fish ponds in ancient Hawaii culture,” Johansen said. “Jerry, our founder, didn’t know that coming out. It’s an extension of aqua culture.”
It’s said the practice first began with the ancient Aztecs, who realized they could extract nutrients from the algae growing in their ponds. They would find the blooms in their lake, naturally.
“It’s a really simple process,” she said.
Operating as an essential business, Cyanotech was able to carry on with business as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping around 100 employees at work in the laboratories, fields, manufacturing and marketing.
However, the company did get hit with delayed supply chains, making it harder to run a business.
“Everything is just taking longer. A lot of our partners are in Southern California,” said Johansen referring to delays experienced by various entities when ports along the West Coast struggled to meet shipping demand as the economy reopened.
In the third quarter of fiscal 2022, which ended in January, the publicly traded company reported net sales over $9.4 million, up 35% from the same period in 2021. Gross profit was up nearly 30% to $3.2 million.
“Although we are experiencing supply chain constraints similar to most production and manufacturing businesses, we have been able to minimize them to date. Demand remains strong as we are benefiting from increased interest in naturally derived high value nutritional products for human health and well-being,” Cysewski said during a Feb. 11 investor call.
Shares of Cyanotech (Nasdaq: CYAN) were up 10 cents — or 3.2% — on Monday to $3.15. On March 1, Cyanotech shares opened and closed at $2.75.
A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in September 2021 said the value of farm-raised marine animals sold by producers statewide slipped 15% in 2020 to $66.4 million from $78.5 million the year before.
While some growth was notched in the areas of algae and ornamentals, the “other” category, which comprises various aquaculture products including finfish and shellfish, saw sales decline, farms that raised marine algae mostly to produce nutritional supplements fared better with sales up by 0.3% to $32.7 million in 2020 from $32.6 million the year before, according to the report.
Algae production accounted for nearly half of aquaculture sales in the state in 2020.