Pilot Project Creates an Oasis of Environmental Technologies

  Sahara Forest Project pilot plantAfter a ten-month intense construction period, invited guests enjoyed the first tours of the Sahara Forest Project pilot facility, realized by Yara, Qafco and The Sahara Forest Project. The Sahara Forest Project is a new environmental solution to produce food, water and energy in desert areas.

"It is designed to utilize what we have enough of to produce what we need more of, using deserts, sunlight, saltwater and CO2 to produce food, water and clean energy," says Joakim Hauge, CEO of The Sahara Forest Project.

In 2011 The Sahara Forest Project AS entered into cooperation with Yara International ASA, the world's largest supplier of fertilizer, and the Qatari company Qafco, the world's largest single site producer of urea and ammonia. After successfully completing a comprehensive feasibility study on Qatar, the parties signed an agreement to build the first fully operational Sahara Forest Project Pilot Plant in Qatar.

"The Sahara Forest Project collaboration is a perfect fit to Yara's agenda of developing sustainable solutions," said Ole Jørgen Haslestad, CEO of Yara International ASA. "We have to accept that businesses have to operate in a more sustainable way, and I believe innovative partnerships such as the one with The Sahara Forest Project are vital to trigger this development."

Qafco and Yara are sponsoring the environmental project, which is executed by Sahara Forest Project. The project works in pilot scale using seawater and solar energy to demonstrate the potential of green technology in arid regions like Qatar. The Sahara Forest Project combines already existing and proven environmental technologies, including saltwater-cooled greenhouses, concentrated solar power (CSP) and technologies for desert revegetation around a saltwater infrastructure. The synergies arising from integrating the technologies improve the performance and economics of the system compared to those of the individual components. Through establishing new vegetation in previously barren land the system also offers the potential to store considerable amounts of CO2 in new plants.

"Innovation is essential to address the global challenges. The Sahara Forest Project creates a new approach to the combined issues of food, energy, fresh water and climate change," says Haslestad. "This is a fascinating project," said BÃ¥rd Vegar Solhjell, Norwegian Minister of the Environment, one of the first guests at the pilot facility inside Measaieed Industrial City in Qatar. "It's almost like you cannot believe it until you see it. Here they use what there is an abundance of to create what there is the least of."