Studies on green growth show great opportunities for the Sahara Forest Project in Jordan’s desert

Publish date: April 24, 2012

At a high-level seminar in Jordan today the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) will present three possible studies that have been undertaken since the foundation signed an agreement with Jordanian authorities to testing and explore possible development of the project’s technologies in the country.

Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon is one of several prominent figures who will attend the presentation. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry is represented by State Secretary Gry Larsen at the seminar organized on the feasibility studies,which has been arranged in cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy in Jordan.

“The results from feasibility studies provide a solid foundation for the establishment of The Sahara Forest Project in Jordan,” said Sahara Forest Project CEO Joakim Hauge. “The studies must be used, however, to put the project into practice. In the Sahara Forest Project, we want to use the feasibility studies actively as a tool to realize our concept in Jordan.”

Read more about Sahara Forest Project at ‘We´re going to make the desert in Qatar green!’

Three comprehensive reports

More than 60 experts, academics and researchers from Jordan and several other countries have contributed to the three feasibility studies on The Sahara Forest Project.

In one study, The Jordan National Feasibility Study, the challenges Jordan has with water, food and energy are put into the context of technologies of the SFP. The another, entitled  The Red Sea – Dead Sea Synergies Feasibility Study, examined the possibilities of combining the grand plans for a canal between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea with the Sahara Forest Project. The third study examines the location of the SFP test center in northern Aqabbukten in the southern end of Wadi Araba. This feasibility study explores the various technologies together and is entitled the Jordan Test and Demonstration Center Feasibility Study.

Study 1 – How to make it work in Jordan

The country offers intense sunlight and dry deserts. In combination with Jordan’s 27 km coastline in the Aqaba Gulf, this represents a perfect location for the Sahara Forest Project. Water, energy and food are challenges that are closely related in this country, in which fresh water is scarce.  

Jordan’s study thoroughly examines the key factors, such as saltwater – both from the sea and from saline groundwater – solar energy, human resources as well as deeply analyzing environmental benefits and limitations.

The analysis provides the basis for a vision that reaches far into the future. It starts with a test and demonstration center in the southern Wadi Araba, which will constitute an essential innovation platform for regional and international research, and will provide educational opportunities locally. It is proposed that be followed up with a commercial expansion in Wadi Araba, and, later, further inland where use can be made of saline groundwater.

The development in the southern Wadi Araba area could expand to over 3,000 hectares of land, employ over 8,000 people – and produce more than 500 GWh of electricity and 200,000 tons of fruit and vegetables every year.

Study 2: Salt water into low-lying Dead Sea

The Dead Sea gets lower each year and does not receive as much water as is evaporating from it. Therefore, a gigantic engineering project to create a channel from the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is planned. The Dead Sea lies some 400 meters below sea level, and the plan is to pump seawater up to the highest point in Wadi Araba and let it run down to the Dead Sea with the help of gravity. Hydroelectric power stations and desalination plants will be located along the waterway.

The study found many additional positive effects of combining the planned channel with the Sahara Forest Project:

• The climate and geography in Wadi Araba and the Dead Sea is ideal for the Sahara Forest Project;
• The  canal project is economical as the salty water is a valuable resource in the SFP;
• SFP can extensively improve access to food, energy and water in Jordan;
• The SFP has the potential to provide all the energy that is needed in the first phase of the canal project with concentrated solar energy;
• The environmental impact of the Sahara Forest Project is positive; soil will be improved, vegetation will increase and biodiversity will also grow.

Study 3: Test center must be built and start functioning

The latest study shows that the SFPs saline-cooled greenhouse will provide perfect growing conditions for valuable crops throughout the year in Wadi Araba.

Greenhouses can work without consuming existing fresh water resources and without the use of fossil energy. On the contrary, concentrated solar power here may contribute to the local production of energy at competitive prices.

The proposed site for a “Test and Demonstration Center” in Aqaba offer perfect climatic and topographic conditions for the technology in the Sahara Forest Project. Together with the overall potential for creating innovative technology solutions to enhance Jordan’s own energy, water and food resources, this represents a strong argument for continuing the process of establishing a Sahara Forest Project “Test and Demonstration Center” in Aqaba .
“The Sahara Forest Project is based on the problems related to food, water and energy security that can not be resolved individually, so there is a need for a coordinated and integrated approach,” said CEO Hauge.

“While we have worked with the feasibility study in Jordan, we have found that this is a view that is also shared by many Jordanians.”

For more information, contact:

CEO Sahara Forest Project, Joakim Hauge,, +47 408 56 190

Communications Department Head, Bellona, Magnus Borgen,, +47 977 28 476

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