Incredible Sahara Forest Project Moves From Concept To Reality With Major Development Deal

Sahara Forest Project original image

Images via Exploration Architecture - original visualisation of Sahara Forest Project

There's great news for sustainable design innovation this week as the Sahara Forest Project gets backing from a development deal between Norway and Jordan. We wrote about this incredible proposal to create carbon neutral energy, fresh water, food and fuel crops through symbiotic technologies back in 2008. Now, after years of hard work and persistence from the collaborative Sahara Forest Project team, this large scale concept is going to become a big reality. Here is the new vision...

Sahara Forest Project Developed Project image

Latest visualisation for Sahara Forest Project demonstration centre in Aqaba Jordan by the Red Sea
A quick recap of the Sahara Forest Project
The Sahara Forest Project proposes to use two separate technologies together, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Seawater Greenhouses, to provide an array of sustainable energy and agricultural solutions, in the usually inhospitable desert environment, through the desalination of seawater into freshwater.

International Collaboration between Norway and Jordan
After joining forces with the Norwegian environmental group the Bellona Foundation in 2009 The Sahara Forest Project team, including biomimicry architect Michael Pawlyn, Seawater Greenhouse designer Charlie Paton and building services engineer Bill Watts, presented their proposal at COP15.

Having been well received in Copenhagen the fast rising profile of the project lead to an audience with Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan in Oslo in June 2010. The King was so impressed he invited the SFP team to visit Jordan in October 2010 to scope out a feasibility study. The result of these fast moving developments is the deal that was signed last week between Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and The Sahara Forest Project in Amman, Jordan.

A Test and Demonstration Centre in Jordan
The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) is the catchy name for the Jordanian Government's strategic development zone by the Red Sea. A perfect location for the Sahara Forest Project, which needs to be located very specifically near the coastline in order to pump seawater to the power plant.

With financial backing from Norway it has been agreed that ASEZA will:

"facilitate the necessary land area for The Sahara Forest Test and Demonstration Centre, including a corridor for the salt water pipe from the Red Sea. The area needed will be 20 hectares (200,000 sqm). ASEZA will also assist SFP in identifying and securing 200 hectares for possible later expansion."

The SFP team are now committed to developing the project from concept to reality in Aqaba, Jordan. The plan is to conduct comprehensive feasibility studies in 2011, develop the Test and Demonstration Centre in 2012, and we are likely to see a large scale roll out of the project in 2015.

Speed is of the essence
It is exciting to see how this international collaboration between Norway and Jordan can produce the necessary land and funding for such an ambitiously innovative project. We look forward to following the speedy progress towards making these sustainable solutions a reality and then to a large scale roll out that will see many more countries benefitting from these symbiotic technologies.

Undoubtedly there will be trials, tribulations and all sorts of social and technical challenges along the way, but the good news is that the starter gun has gone off. As we so often hear, we don't have any time to waste when it comes to developing and implementing renewable energy sources.

The President of the Bellona Foundation and founding partner of SFP, Frederic Hauge, says 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. The Sahara Forest Project has unfolded at a remarkable pace since first presented, and I am confident that the SFP facility in Jordan can be a reality within a very short time frame."

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