Seawater + Halophyte plants to ‘Green’ Coastal Desert Regions

Originally published at johnbrianshannon.com by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

What could be better than creating rich cropland out of the world’s desert regions?

It’s a tempting idea. Some 33% of the world’s landmass is covered with desert landscape and 40,000 miles of coastlines are adjoining deserts. Nothing but ocean, sun, and sand. But in those hostile regions, some prototype halophyte farming projects have scored significant successes.

NASA - Earth with Global Deserts
Looking for a place to grow Halophytes? Coastal desert regions are your best bet. NASA – Earth with Global Deserts

Halophytes for human food, for livestock feed, and for biofuel production

Whether halophyte crops are grown for food (the ‘tenders’ or ‘leaves’ of the plant have a light nutty and salty taste) or to feed livestock (the stalks) or for biofuel production, growing these crops along coastal regions restores plant life to desert areas adjoining the ocean.

Exclusive report – Boeing reveals “the biggest breakthrough in biofuels ever” (Energy Post EU)

A land plan that grows halopyhtes food for humans/livestock feed and for biofuel production will produce the best economic result

“Integrating those two systems you get sustainable aquaculture that does not pollute the oceans and biomass that can be used for fuels” — Darrin L. Morgan

As a bonus in poverty-stricken lands, dried halophytes (branches/roots) can serve as an infinitely cleaner cookstove fuel than what is presently used in such areas — which is often dried livestock dung or expensive kerosene.

Halophytes are those crops which are salt-tolerant and can survive the blistering heat of the world’s deserts. Many of the crops we presently grow have salt-resistant cousins — all they need is trenches or pipelines to deliver the water inland from the sea.

Halophytes negate the need to remove the high salt content of ocean water which in itself, is a very costly proposition with desalination plants costing millions of dollars.

‘Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected.’ Image courtesy of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi.
‘Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected.’ Image courtesy of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi.

As halophyte farms become established they improve the growing conditions for non-halophyte plants

Most deserts are sand, which means all that is required to begin creating usable farmland is startup funding, farm machinery, a field plan and seeds, and of course, plenty of farm labourers.

Creating Wealth out of Sand and Seawater

Some of the poorest places on the planet are also ‘rich’ in deserts and are located near plentiful salt water resources, making them suitable candidates for halophyte farming. Economic benefits for poor countries are stable growth, lower unemployment, better balance-of-trade and less reliance on foreign food aid programmes.

If you can grow your own food at low cost, why buy it from other countries?

Halophytes Greening Eritrea Part I (Martin Sheen narrates the early days of Eritrea’s very successful halophyte farming and inland seafood production)

Halophytes Greening Eritrea Part II

Seawater irrigation agriculture projects for deserts (completely rainless regions)

2012 Yuma, Arizona Salicornia planting

Sahara Forest Project: From vision to reality

University of Phoenix Seawater Farming Overview

Growing Potatoes using Saltwater Farming Techniques in the Netherlands

Other successful examples exist in other coastal regions around the world

Helping to mitigate global sea level rises due to climate change, creating powerful economic zones out of desert, seawater and labour, lowering unemployment in poverty-stricken nations, removing carbon from the atmosphere and returning it to the soil, all while dramatically increasing crop and seafood production are all benefits of growing halophytes in coastal desert regions of the world.

Stage I Coastal Desert transformation

The first 25,000 miles of coastal desert out of a grand total of 40,000 miles of coastal desert globally can be converted to this kind of farming simply by showing up and using existing simple technologies/cultivation methods and seed varieties.

Stage II Coastal Desert transformation

The other 15,000 miles of coastal desert regions could be viewed as Stage II of this process after the best candidate areas become fully cultivated, as these secondary regions may require more capital investment for conversion due to their somewhat more inland locations.

Huge opportunity awaits early investors in this rediscovered agricultural market. Cheap land, free ocean water, low cost seeds and local labour, and a reputation as businesspeople who can solve local problems add value and employment to poverty-stricken regions, and lead growing nations forward, look promising for seawater/halophyte farming owner/operators and investors.

Further Reading

Nearly 40,000 New Green Jobs Created Across America During 2Q 2013

By Silvio Marcacci — Special to JBS News

Clean energy and sustainable transportation projects launched this year created nearly 40,000 new green jobs in America during the second quarter (2Q) of 2013.

From renewables to energy efficiency and public transportation, America’s transition to a clean energy economy is well underway, reports the latest green jobs report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

E2’s 2013 second quarter clean energy and transportation jobs report tracks job announcements from private companies, elected officials, and media outlets to paint a picture of economic growth that’s outpacing the overall economy and creating a sustainable future – for America’s economy and environment.

Top 10 US green jobs map 2Q 2013

Top 10 US green jobs 2Q 2013 map via Environmental Entrepreneurs

38,600 Green Jobs Across Nearly 60 Projects

Nearly 60 projects were either announced or launched in 27 states during 2Q 2013, according to E2’s report. These projects will create 38,600 green jobs, slightly higher than the 37,400 green jobs E2 tracked in 2Q 2012, and on pace to surpass the 110,000 total green jobs created in 2012.

Renewable energy generation was led by solar power and wind energy, representing 31 projects and nearly half of the total green jobs outlook, with more than 13,300 new openings – more than any other sector.

Solar energy projects represented a whopping 10,400 green jobs, equaling 75% of all power generation and 25% of all green jobs. Not to be outdone, wind energy projects chipped in more than 2,500 new positions, up from just 800 in the first quarter.

Public transportation and smart grid/transmission projects followed closely behind renewables, with 9,600 and 8,200 jobs respectively, while energy efficiency rounded out the pack with 5,700 jobs announced.

Interestingly, E2’s analysis didn’t seem to include the fast-growing green building industry, which represented 44% of all US construction jobs in 2012 and could top $140 billion in annual revenue in 2013, according to a recent report from the US Green Building Council.

Economic Growth Without Geographic Or Political Boundaries

Unsurprisingly, California led all states in both total green jobs and projects announced during 2Q. The “epicenter of the US clean tech market” tallied 12 total wind, solar, biofuels, and transportation projects creating 9,169 total jobs.

Top 10 US green jobs list 2Q 2013

Top 10 US green jobs 2Q 2013 list via Environmental Entrepreneurs

Newcomers managed to shake up the top ten list of green jobs by state, disregarding political affiliations and rural versus urban demographics. Hawaii surged into second place with 5,000 new positions on the strength of a $300 million government building energy efficiency effort, and Maryland ranked third with 4,400 total jobs propelled by a $2.6 billion, 20-station, 14-mile Baltimore light rail project.

Once again, good economics knows no political boundaries, with new projects and new jobs springing up in Republican and Democratic congressional districts. Several districts saw multiple project announcements, but California’s 51st district led the way with 901 total jobs, more than double the second-place showing of 414 green jobs in Nevada’s 3rd district.

Toward A Green Economic Future?

But the best may be yet to come, as President Obama formulates the specific details of his climate change mitigation plan. A recent analysis of the economic impacts of cutting carbon by the Natural Resources Defense Council found cutting carbon from power plants alone could create 210,000 jobs – let alone what stable policy for renewable energy could do.

So as America gets ready to enjoy the Labour Day holiday, it’s important to once again consider the potential of a clean energy economy. Green jobs help build a better future in every regard – cleaner air, a healthier environment, and stable jobs.

This article, Nearly 40,000 New Green Jobs Created Across America During 2Q 2013, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Global Wind Power Industry adds 241 Gigawatts by 2017

Wind farm in Sweden
Lillgrund Wind Farm in the Sound between Copenhagen and Malmö. Image courtesy: Mariusz Paździora

With the addition of 44.9 gigawatts in new installations in 2012, world wind power capacity grew to approximately 285.7 GW, an increase of 18.6 percent in the total wind power installation base. Average annual growth over the past 5 years has been 17.8 percent, achieved during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, even with traditionally large markets for wind power in economic recession in both North America and Europe.

Image courtesy of: Delphi234
Global growth of wind power. Image courtesy of: Delphi234

According to a recent report from Navigant Research, however, market growth will fluctuate over the next several years: 241.6 GW will be added between 2012 and 2017, at an average growth rate of 5.1 percent annually, the study concludes.

“The wind power industry continues to demonstrate its ability to rapidly evolve in order to meet new demands in markets that face a variety of challenges,” says Feng Zhao, managing consultant with Navigant Research. “Wind turbine vendors are designing specialized machines for maximum energy production in low wind speed areas and for operation in high altitudes, in cold climates, and offshore. Nevertheless, a slowdown in wind turbine sales is anticipated, with a decrease of more than 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.”

That decrease will be reflected in the U.S. market during 2013, as a result of 2012’s last‐minute one year extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC). The U.S. market will likely face additional political uncertainty when the PTC expires again later this year. Established European wind power markets, such as Spain and Italy, are expected to decline in coming years, while China, the world’s largest wind market, will remain in a state of transition from a period of breakneck growth to one of more stable development.

The report, “International Wind Energy Development: World Market Update 2012”, is the 18th edition of this comprehensive, annual wind energy market report. The report examines the state of the wind power industry today and provides forecasts for the market through 2017. Including more than 80 tables, charts, and graphs, the report highlights a number of trends for the industry through 2022, including the relative rankings of top countries for wind power installations; rankings of the top ten wind turbine suppliers; the evolution of wind power market structures; and the penetration of wind power in the world’s overall electricity supply.

An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

Source: Business Wire