The Sahara Forest Project concept and technologies can be implemented successfully in parts of most of the world’s hot deserts. In identifying the best locations for maximizing the triple bottom-line of a SFP facility a number of factors must be considered.
Maximising the output from a CSP plant and greenhouse requires high direct normal irradiance (DNI) and low humidity. 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. Height above sea level and distance from the sea are also 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.
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. There will be other location drivers if the main aim is to use the Sahara Forest Project to revegetate desert areas or provide an amenity to a particular area. Finally the scale of the development will determine the economics of the pipeline. The larger the development, and the larger the seawater pipeline, the lower the pipeline’s unit cost per m2 of development.
Suitable locations for SFP-facilities are also dependent on social factors such as political support, access to competence, geopolitical benefit and local partnerships. Additionally a number of financial factors must be considered such as availability of funding, manufacturing and construction costs, labor costs, market access, market value and cost of land.