Creating life in the desert

Norwegian initiative «Sahara Forest Project» launches construction in Aqaba. Project aims to grow vegetables in the desert and to produce 10.000 liters of fresh water every day.

On Thursday October 27, the Sahara Forest Project started the construction of an innovative facility funded by Norway and the EU. Located in Aqaba, the facility will equal the size of four football fields.

--This is the beginning of a business adventure that will produce freshwater, food and clean energy in the dry areas of Aqaba, explained Joakim Hauge, Chief Executive Officer of the Sahara Forest Project,.

Once completed, the Sahara Forest Project Launch Station will contain saltwater-cooled greenhouses that will utilize saltwater to provide excellent conditions for production of several tons high-quality vegetables. Photovoltaic solar panels will provide power for the electrical installations in the facility. Outdoor growing zones will not only contribute yields from various crops but also store CO2 from the atmosphere into vegetation of barren land. A desalination unit with capacity of 10 000 liters freshwater per day will provide the necessary water for the greenhouse and outdoor vegetation.

The desert holds potential

-- It is enjoyable to stand here today to celebrate the start of the building process. The feasibility studies demonstrated a clear potential for a large-scale production of food and energy in the Aqaba desert. We have been encouraged to see that the scope and ambitions of the Sahara Forest Project have increased, noted Norway’s Ambassador to Jordan, Ms. Sissel Breie.

Norway and the European Union are the two key funders of this new industrial scheme in Aqaba, supported by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment supports the project with NOK 11 million. The European Union Ambassador to Jordan, Mr. Andrea Matteo Fontana, noted that the initiative is a great opportunity for Jordan to reduce its dependence on imported energy and enhance its water supply as well as meeting its increased food needs.

The facility in Jordan will be three times the size of the successful Sahara Forest Project pilot facility in Qatar, where the technologies and the exciting synergies were tested and demonstrated under rough conditions.

Jordan, a hotspot

Hauge is very pleased with the warm and kind reception the Sahara Forest Project has received ever since His Majesty King Abdullah II invited the Sahara Forest Project to Jordan. Jordan is seen as an ideal country for such a project. The country is a regional hotspot for investments into the rapidly growing solar industry; the country has ideal natural resources for the project and the Jordanian government, represented by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, is facilitating and supporting the project management.