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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 02/05/2012

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The Sahara Forest Project Test and Demonstration Centre in Jordan, shown here in a digital rendering, will be built near Aqaba and serve as a proving ground for saltwater-cooled greenhouses, solar power generation and technologies for desert revegetation (Photo courtesy of Sahara Forest Project)
(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Greenhouses for producing high-value crops will soon be established in Aqaba's desert through a pilot project that is also aimed at generating clean energy and fresh water, the project's CEO said Tuesday.

The Sahara Forest Project, a Norwegian endeavour to create oases in hot, arid and uninhabited lands, will be implemented in Jordan to address its food, water and energy challenges.

The objective of the Sahara Forest Project is to enable restorative growth, revegetation, and creation of green jobs through the profitable production of food, freshwater, bio fuels and electricity, Sahara Forest Project CEO Joakim Hauge said.

"" In other words, we aim to use what we have enough or too much of - saltwater, sun, arid land, and carbon dioxide - to make what we need more of - clean energy, fresh water and food," Hauge said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.

The three core components of the Sahara Forest Project are saltwater-cooled greenhouses, concentrated solar power (CSP) for electricity and heat generation, and technologies for desert revegetation, he said.

CSP is a form of renewable energy that produces electricity from sunlight using thermal energy to drive conventional steam turbines, according to web sources.

Saltwater-cooled greenhouses provide suitable growing conditions that enable year-round cultivation of high-value vegetable crops even in desert conditions. By using seawater to provide evaporative cooling and humidification, the crops' water requirements are minimised and yields maximised with a minimal carbon footprint, according to the Sahara Forest Project.

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Sahara Forest Project signed a memorandum of understanding last year to conduct three feasibility studies for the project.

The results of the studies, which were financed and supported by the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs, were announced in a seminar last week.

"The seminar last week marks the start of a dialogue between international and Jordanian experts and policy makers, which we believe will establish the necessary framework for establishing a test and demonstration centre in Jordan," Hauge noted.

The centre will be located approximately 15 kilometres inland and at an elevation of about 40 metres above sea level.

It will be supplied with seawater through a pipeline running along the border with Israel, and be located to the north of the Aqaba airport, at the southern end of Wadi Araba.

"The centre will be 20 hectares in size, but be designed to allow easy expansion to a 200-hectare commercial facility using the same seawater pipeline," Hauge underscored.

The centre will serve as a facility for innovation, competence building and demonstration of the economic viability of the Sahara Forest Project concept, he added.

The Sahara Forest Project will be in charge of implementing the centre as well as cooperating with partners, local and international experts and contractors, Hauge said.

"Financing would take place through consortia of private and public funding" The total price is currently estimated at 30 million," he noted.

The first concept study of the Sahara Forest Project was launched at the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009, Hauge said, adding that a pilot project is also being implemented in Qatar.


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