Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sun + Desert + Seawater = Abundant Food, Energy, Freshwater, Cool Temperatures

Humans are just beginning to learn how to use all the components of the good life that are available on the planet. Rumours of the collapse of Earth's ecosystems have been grossly overstated.
The installations would turn deserts into lush patches of vegetation, according to its designers, and do away with the need to dig wells for fresh water, an activity that has depleted aquifers across the world.

.....Above certain temperatures the amount of water lost through leaves' stomata rises so much plants stop their photosynthesis and do not grow. The solar farm planned by the project runs seawater evaporators, pumping damp, cool air through the greenhouses. This reduces the warmth inside by about 15C, compared with the temperature outside.

At the other end of the greenhouse from the evaporators, water vapour is condensed. Some of this fresh water is used to water the crops, some for cleaning the solar mirrors.

"So we've got conditions in the greenhouse of high humidity and lower temperature," said Paton. "The crops sitting in this slightly steamy, humid condition can grow fantastically well."

The designers said that virtually any vegetables could be grown in the greenhouses. The demonstration plants already produce lettuces, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. The nutrients to grow the plants could come from local seaweed or be extracted from the seawater.

Michael Pawlyn, of Exploration Architecture, based in London, worked on the Eden Project for seven years and is now part of the Sahara Forest team. He said that the Seawater Greenhouse and CSP provided substantial synergies for each other. "Both technologies work extremely well in hot, dry, desert locations. CSP produces a lot of waste heat and we'd be able to use that to evaporate more seawater from the greenhouse. And CSP needs a supply of clean, de-mineralised water in order for the [electricity generating] turbines to function and to keep the mirrors at peak output. It just so happens the Seawater Greenhouse produces large quantities of this."

Paton said the greenhouse produced more than five times the fresh water needed to water the plants inside, so some of the water could be released to the outside, creating a microclimate for hardier plants such as jatropha, a crop that can be turned into biofuel.

The cost of the Sahara Forest Project could be relatively low as both CSP and Seawater Greenhouses are proven technologies. The designers estimate that building 20 hectares (nearly 50 acres) of greenhouses combined with a 10MW CSP scheme would cost about 80m euro (GBP 65m)...Paton said groups in countries across the Middle East, including in UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, have expressed interest in possibly funding demonstration projects. _Source
The sun, desert, seawater, and money for financing are all there. What is lacking is the human imagination, initiative, and expertise to put the plans into motion.

The only shortages present on the human planet Earth, is a shortage of human capital. The enemies of human capital development are many: politics as usual, vested interests such as ruling classes, powerful criminal conglomerates and labour unions, political parties, and other established "guilds of power" who like things the way they are.

Market economics hit vested interests like a freight train in the 18th and 19th centuries, unleashing a wave of revolution that has only begun to manifest. The Pelosis and Putins of the world want to turn things back to the old days of one party rule, with a firm clamp of government power choking the dynamism of free markets.

The upcoming US election is an important pivot point in whether history will turn back to the old ways of autocratic rule (Pelosi, Boxer, Obama's socialism etc), or whether the free market will continue to work toward a "singularity" or revolution in disruptive technologies.

If European voters could decide, they would choose to go back to the old ways. But Americans are not Europeans, thank Apollo, and they will decide.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts