Whilst deserts can be the harshest and most inhabitable places in earth, they are also the perfect locations for new-fangled green technologies such as solar power. For example, Jordan has recently announced its support for the large-scale Sahara Forest Project which brings together solar power and desalination of seawater to provide sustainable energy and agricultural solutions in desert regions. The project aims to create carbon neutral energy, fresh water and food, contribute to forestation and all in the midst of desert lands.
The project’s ability to alleviate food and water shortages is no doubt an important aspect, especially if the recent food riots that hit the region are anything to go by.
Financially backed by the Norwegian authorities, Jordan has signed an agreement which gives the go ahead for the development of the Sahara Forest Project system in the coastal town of Aqaba.
The development site is a 200,000 square metre plot although a further 2 million square metres has been secured for future expansions. The location of Aqaba near the Red Sea is important as the project will be pumping seawater to the power plant to convert into fresh water for use. The project works by simultaneously converting salt water into fresh water which is used to grow fresh vegetables whilst solar power is used to heat water and create steam used to turn a turbine and create energy.
Jordan’s uptake of the project came after the plan caught the eye of Jordan’s King Abdullah II during a meeting with the creators of the project in Oslo in 2010. The Sahara Forest Project has been masterminded by biomimicry architect Michael Pawlyn, Seawater Greenhouse designer Charlie Paton and structural engineer Bill Watts. It has also been supported by the Norwegian environmental group the Bellona Foundation.
The President of the Bellona Foundation, Frederic Hauge said of the new deal:
“We are very happy with the strong support from both Jordanian and Norwegian authorities. It is encouraging to see that we share the vision of a more holistic approach towards solving challenges in the food, water and energy sector.”
According to plans put forward by developers a feasibility study will be carried in 2011, a Test and Demonstration centre built in 2012 with a large-scale roll out of the project planned for 2015. If all goes well, this project will illustrates that the with the help of eco-technologies you really can turn the desert into an oasis.
Image via Sahara Forest Project
For more green stories from Jordan see:
Jordanian Environmentalists to Fight Ajloun Forest Construction
Jordan Joins the Food Protest as Tunisian President Steps Down
Jordan’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Set For 2012 Inauguration