An ambitious project that aims to turn arid desert land into a green oasis took a step closer to becoming reality last week when an agreement was signed on the rights to develop a pilot system in Jordan.
The Sahara Forest Project’s (SFP) first facility will be located on a 2,000,000 square meter (21,527,821 sq. ft.) plot of land in Aqaba, a coastal town in the south of Jordan where it will be a test bed for the use of a combination of technologies designed to enable the production of fresh water, food and renewable energy in hot, arid regions.
The partners behind the Sahara Forest Project are Bill Watts of Max Fordham Consulting Engineers, Seawater Greenhouse, Exploration Architecture and theBellona Foundation, an international environmental NGO based in Norway, who have been working on the idea since 2009.
In 2009, after first studies showed that the concept was feasible and economically viable, the project was presented internationally at the December 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where it was well received. In June, 2010, Jordan’s King Abdullah II saw a project presentation during a visit to Norway and was impressed enough to say he was ready to facilitate its implementation in Jordan.
The main pillars of the project are saltwater greenhouses, concentrated solar energy, and cultivation of traditional crops along with energy crops such as algae, which all come together in one location to solve a whole range of environmental problems.