Via BigThink, Discovery reports on an ambitious plan to bring life to the arid deserts of Jordan by using seawater and solar greenhouses:
A structure, called a seawater greenhouse, will capitalize on the abundance of sun in Jordan and use it to evaporate seawater and condense it into fresh water. While this happens, a naturally cool and humid environment will be created — perfect for growing crops.
Energy to run the facility will come from a concentrated solar power plant, which will use mirrors to focus sunlight onto pipes of fluid. The super-heated fluid boils and the steam is captured to drive a turbine generator, which produces electricity.
Though arid coastal locations are ideal, a forest project could still be used further inland. Several arid areas in the Sarhara are below sea level, making it relatively inexpensive to deliver water to the facility without costly pumping fees. The Qattara Depression in Egypt, for example, is about 435 feet below sea level — a drop that could be exploited for hydro-electric power, too.
The open question is always going to be cost, but the ambitiously-named Sahara Forest Project apparently already has approval from Jordan’s government, and reckon they could be operating at commercial levels by 2015. That’d be a sight to see, no?