Press "Enter" to skip to content

Despite lessened sargassum on Playa del Carmen beaches biofuel testing set for March

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — Despite the lessened arrival of sargassum this year, the municipality is moving forward with its biofuel testing. Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, the Secretary of Sustainable Environment and Climate Change of Solidaridad, says the municipality will begin testing in March despite having less sargassum.

Ocampo says Playa del Carmen has collected approximately 800 fewer tons of sargassum on the coast in the first two months of 2024 compared to the first two months of last year.

Regardless, tests to convert sargassum into biofuel is set to begin in March. She says the testing will be done by a team of Mexican and German scientists. She says the city is preparing for the arrival of the German scientists who will test their German-made equipment to turn Playa del Carmen sargassum into fuel.

Ocampo says Playa del Carmen has come a long way since the sargassum began arriving nearly 10 years ago. The municipality has made significant progress in the way of collecting it and at the same time recovering the white sandy beaches, she noted, referring to the recovery of sand from the unwanted seaweed.

To date, the arrival of sargassum on Playa del Carmen beaches has been significant less than last year. Photo: February 26, 2024.

While she did not provide details on the equipment or the project itself, she did say that the innovation represents a significant effort to address the sustainably problem by finding useful applications for this abundant resource.

“Currently it is used as a soil fertilizer, but this year we hope to go one step further,” she said.

As for the lessened arrival of sargassum so far in 2024, “basically we see it related to temperatures. The higher the temperatures, the more sargassum arrives. It reproduces in greater quantities.

“Now that we have had low temperatures, the arrival has been insignificant, very low, we are talking about 1,084 tons when last year we were already at 1,800,” she explained.

Ocampo says that while monitoring with specialists, they have agreed on several combined reasons for the decrease. “Several reasons are mentioned, the waves and the type of nutrients in the water,” she said.

This year, the arrival of sargassum has been in combination with red algae which has been found mainly in the concave areas such as Playa El Recodo in the center of the city.

Sargassum presence has been low on a majority of Solidaridad beaches.

“According to our calculations with the specialists, the arrival of sargassum will be very similar to last year (…) last year we collected 26,400 tons and this year we will be in those same quantities,” she added.