The Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani touring the Sahara Forest Project’— Qatar Pilot Plant after its launch yesterday.
By MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: Qatar has launched a novel pilot project, ‘Sahara Forest’ in collaboration with a Norwegian company, which will help produce food crops (such as tomatoes, cucumber, melon), fodder crops, freshwater, clean energy, salt, algae (for biofuel) and re-vegetation of desert areas using solar power and sea water.
On the sidelines of QAFCO-6 inauguration ceremony here yesterday, the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani opened ‘Sahara Forest Project’— Qatar Pilot Plant’— a joint initiative of Qatar Fertiliser Company (QAFCO), and Norway-based, Yara ASA, providing new environmental solutions to create re-vegetation and green jobs.
Assuming a hypothetical mega-project of similar nature, spread in an area of 4,000 hectares in northern part of Africa, the facility can provide CSP powering all the Oasis’s needs and exporting 325 GWh/year; self-sustained thermal desalination of freshwater for all irrigation needs; 300 hectares of saltwater greenhouses, yielding 190,000 tonnes tomatoes and melons, annually; 2000 hectares of new outdoor re-vegetation and food crops, 30, 000 tonnes fodder crops (annually); and 150 hectares of algae cultivation which can help produce about 7500 tonnes/year of biofuel-ready algae oils.
The project has seven distinct facilities including concentrated solar power (CSP), saltwater-cooled greenhouses, outside vegetation and evaporative hedges, photovoltaic solar power, salt production, halophytes and algae production.
The project concept and technologies can be implemented in many of the world’s hot deserts including Qatar.
A large-scale rollout will create a sustainable increase of food, water and energy security and provide a powerful tool to combat climate change.
The pilot facility in Qatar, aims to provide the first demonstration of those synergies at scale, and provide a unique research platform to develop and prove new strategies for providing food, freshwater, and clean energy in desert environments.
“This project is expected to pave way for commercialisation of this green technology for large scale implementation with a vision to produce energy, food, and freshwater not only in Qatar but for tomorrow’s world population in a sustainable way”, said Khalifa Abdullah Al Sowaidi, Vice-Chairman and CEO of QAFCO.