Construction work on the Sahara Forest Project facility in the Qatar desert is in top gear, aiming to be ready for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting late this year.
The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-18) to the UNFCCC will take place in Doha, Qatar from November 26 to December 7, not far from where the building is taking place.
"All involved parties - the Sahara Forest Project (SFP), Qafco and Yara - are working well together, looking for solutions and determined to get this ready for COP-18," says Svein Flatebø from Corporate Communications.
"Work has taken place at night, and gone smoothly, which means we have been able to make good progress during the warmest part of the year in Qatar," Svein explains.
"This all means that, from what has been accomplished so far, that we should be able to stick to budget and are on schedule," he adds.
Green growth in the desert
The test facility is being built on a 10,000 square meter area at Qafco, and will demonstrate how salt water and renewable energy can make it possible to cultivate the desert, an idea one of the founders says was inspired by the Namibian fog-basking beetle, which catches drinking water by condensing morning fog on its body.
The SFP pilot project combines a salt water greenhouse, concentrated solar energy, evaporative hedges, and algae cultivation and desalinization units to produce food, water and energy.
The greenhouse has been built and is now being completed with the addition of technical installations. Underground pipes and technical equipment are in place and the foundation has been cast. Solar power, desalinization and algae facilities have been produced off site and will be installed over the coming month.
"We are in high gear in order to be able to open the plant during the climate meeting in December," SFP director Joakim Hauge told Norwegian technical magazine Teknisk Ukeblad. "We believe the facility will provide a tangible example of how innovation and the cooperation of various participants can create sustainable growth."
Hauge hopes that the SFP can provide a bright spot during the Doha climate talks, and help reverse a trend of deadlock and pessimism that has dominated since the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009.