The Sahara Forest Project was borne out of a dire necessity to ensure the long term survival of residents living in the Middle East’s desert regions. 60 People from 12 countries have contributed research to the project that aims to turn inhospitable deserts into flourishing food and power producing habitats that harness new climate-specific innovations. Jordan was the first country to come on board, and yesterday, SFP announced a new collaboration with Yara International and QAFCO that will result in a one hectare pilot plant in Doha, Qatar.
Jordan’s King comes on board
Owned by biomimicry architect Michael Pawlyn, structural engineer Bill Watts, and the Norwegian environmental group the Bellona Foundation, the Sahara Forest Project was initially established in 2009. After learning about the project in Norway, Jordan’s King Abdullah II officially came on board at the beginning of 2011.
Yesterday SFP’s CEO Joakim Hauge signed an agreement with CEO Khalifa A. Al-Sowaidi of QAFCO and CEO Jørgen Ole Haslestad of Yara International to take the project one step further – in Qatar.
The pilot project just outside of Doha will develop and test seawater-based greenhouses, concentrated solar power (CSP) for heat & electricity, evaporative hedges and ponds for reducing brine to dry salts, algae cultivation facilities, vegetated outdoor areas, and halophyte cultivation units.
Funding from fertilizer companies
Funding for the $5.3 million project, as well as technological contributions, will come from Qafco and Yara International – both chemical and fertilizer companies.
With Monsanto so much in the news the mention of chemicals and fertilizers is bound to raise reader suspicion, and certainly this is cause to keep an eye on developments. However, Pawlyn, Watts, and the Bellona Foundation all have solid reputations.
“We are very excited to join forces with Qafco and Yara to realize this truly unique system of green technologies. The Pilot Plant will prove the benefits of a holistic approach to challenges in the food, water and energy-sector,” says CEO of The Sahara Forest Project, Joakim Hauge.
“A cornerstone of the pilot is greenhouses utilizing seawater to provide cool and humid growing conditions for vegetables. The greenhouses will also produce freshwater themselves,” according to SFP, adding that “the greenhouses will be coupled with a state of the art parabolic trough solar collector with a thermal desalination unit supported by PV-technology.”
The pilot project, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2012, will also cultivate algae in a system of photobioreactors and open pond cultivation systems.
Visit the Sahara Forest Project for a detailed list of technologies that will be tested in Qatar. All images courtesy of SFP.
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