Seawater and solar power grow crops in the desert

Story highlights

  • Sahara Forest Project in Qatar implements a range of cutting-edge green technologies that all work together
  • The system includes seawater greenhouses, concentrated solar power and algae production
  • The goal is to produce food and other vegetation, as well as desalinated water
  • The project has elicited enthusiasm but also skepticism over whether it is a good use of resources
In the scorching desert of Qatar, scientists are showing that saltwater can be used to help grow crops.
A one hectare research initiative known as the Sahara Forest Project -- modest in size, but not in ambition -- has produced a harvest of barley, cucumbers and arugula in the last few months using a mix of ingredients not usually associated with successful agriculture: seawater and Qatar's ample supply of heat.
Conceived in Norway, the first-ever Sahara Forest Project facility launched last November to coincide with the United Nations Climate Conference e(COP18) in Doha. It implements a range of cutting-edge environmentally-friendly technologies that takes the things that Qatar has in excess -- heat and seawater -- and converts them into a range of valuable resources.