Jordan's Desert: A Green Eden?

Using Solar Power to Run Seawater Greenhouses

Jordan's Desert: A Green Eden? - Using Solar Power to Run Seawater Greenhouses

In mid-January 2011, the governments of Jordan and Norway signed an agreement with the Sahara Forest Project (SFP), an environmental technology group from Norway, to build a 20-hectare demonstration center capable of turning large sections of desert into lush, green land for the production of commercial food, energy, fresh water, and electricity. Paton’s Seawater Greenhouse Company, developed by British inventor Charlie Paton, joined forces with other experts in engineering, architecture, and environmental technology to create SFP. The team realized that solar plants work really well in sunny areas, but that they also need water for cooling and cleaning. By combining a solar power plant with a seawater greenhouse, the experts were able to use the same seawater from the greenhouse to cool and clean the solar mirror panels, while powering the greenhouse with its own solar power. Although most of SFP’s efforts have been theoretical, the Sahara Forest Project initially attracted attention at the 2009 COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen, and was later presented to King Abdullah II of Jordan in June of 2010. The planned center will be built near Aqaba on the Red Sea, and plans to accommodate greenhouses on 4 hectares of land, while devoting 16 hectares to open-air crops, solar reflectors, and support buildings. The center will try to grow a variety of crops including algae and halophytes, with the aim to test as many technologies as possible. SFP hopes to begin operations in 2015.

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