The Sahara Forest Project concept and technologies can be implemented successfully in parts of most of the world’s hot deserts. When considering the best locations for maximizing the triple bottom line of a SFP facility at least six factors will be crucial.
1.High irradiation – low humidity
Maximizing the output from a solar power production plant and greenhouse requires high direct normal irradiance (DNI) and low humidity. Solar radiation above 2000 kWh/m2 year will be beneficial for renewable energy production. Temperature and humidity need to be considered together. A region with higher temperatures can still be viable if the humidity is lower, as that allows more effective cooling within the greenhouses.
2. Access to saltwater
Although the SFP technologies can operate with wastewater or brackish water, the main focus is on utilization of saltwater, primarily from the sea. Height above sea level and distance from the sea are thus important factors for the Sahara Forest Project because it has a direct effect on the energy required to pump seawater. As a rule of thumb land up to 200m elevation has potential for viability. The cost of the pipeline relative to the overall cost of a Sahara Forest Project will depend a great deal on the size of the project – the bigger the project, the lower the relative cost of the pipeline. The pumping energy costs vary in a predictable linear way in direct proportion to distance and elevation. The diameter of the pipe will have an effect on pumping energy: reducing the pipe diameter by two will increase the pumping energy by approximately eight. Saltwater aquifers might also provide relevant sources of saltwater for Sahara Forest Project facilities.
3. Size and type of land
While land areas between 10 and 20 ha might be suitable for establishing SFP facilities, 20 ha or more will be required for large-scale facilities. Dry sub-humid lands, semi-arid lands, arid lands, and hyper-arid lands are all relevant for establishing SFP facilities.
While it is in no way a prerequisite, our technologies benefits from a relatively constant wind direction.
5.Proximity to other industry
Areas in proximity of one or more industrial plants to make use of waste CO2, heat or brine and in proximity to the recipient of the salt produced in the project – whether an industrial user, a post-processor, or a port – would be advantageous.
6.Social and financial factors
Suitable locations for SFP-facilities are also dependent on social factors such as local political support, access to competence and labour and potential for local partnerships. Additionally a number of financial factors must be considered such as availability of funding, manufacturing and construction costs, labour costs, market access, market value, feed-in tariffs and other incentives, grid connection and cost of land.