Jordan: Sahara Forest Project using solar to turn desert into vegetated spaces

Jordan’s Sahara Forest project (SFP), which has been running since December 2012 with the aim of transforming desert spaces into vegetated areas, was inaugurated on September 7 by the Prince of Norway and the King of Jordan following a combined investment of €160 million. It has been in part funded by the EU and Norwegian government.

The fundamental idea behind the SFP is to permit the revegetation of deserts from areas where life currently cannot or can hardly develop, to places where vegetation and humans in the long term can live.

The impressive technologies behind this project allow SFP to thrive using Co2 and salt water pumped deep under the sea to cool the onsite greenhouses and provide suitable growing conditions for vegetated life to develop.

This is done in combination with the intense desert sun harnessed by a solar PV array coupled with facilities that permit outdoor cultivation in extremely arid areas such as the Sahara desert. It aims to provide food, fresh water and clean energy.

“The Sahara Forest Project utilizes solar power technologies to provide power for electrical installations in the facility. Both photovoltaics and concentrated solar power can be used to provide electricity and heat. Dust arresting from the surrounding vegetation and water for cleaning the solar installations ensure efficient electricity generation,” states the official SFP 2017 booklet.

The chief executive of the project, Joakim Hauge, remarked that the project is “a starting point for the realization of large scale operations here in Jordan and in other countries.”

The SFP is can produce of up to 130,000 kg vegetables per year, 10,000 litres of fresh water daily from the solar-powered desalination unit, and 3,200 m2 outdoor planting space in previously uninhabitable areas.

Author: Frederic Brown