Seawater Greenhouse

LOCATION: United Kingdom

SUMMARY: Seawater Greenhouse is a UK based design and engineering company that specializes in implementing greenhouse projects in hot and arid coastal regions. Using a process originally invented by Founder and Director Charlie Paton, our company tailor-makes horticultural solutions in arid environments that need only sunlight and seawater to operate.

PROBLEM SPACE: “The Seawater Greenhouse system is designed to tackle problems within the food-water-energy nexus with one integrated solution. Changes in global climate patterns have intensified droughts worldwide while population growth puts ever-increasing pressure on agriculture to meet demand. In arid regions agriculture often uses in excess of 90% of total available freshwater resources, with over-abstraction leading to salinisation and eventual depletion of groundwater. These problems are acutely challenging for farmers, who lack the access to capital and equipment necessary to implement water-smart technologies in order to adapt to increasing water stress.

In Somaliland – where we are building our latest project using a new, low-cost and modular design – these problems are exemplified to the extreme. The country and surrounding Horn of Africa region are suffering from the worst drought in memory, leading to surging food prices and famine conditions. These droughts and the resultant food insecurity are only projected to get worse as global temperatures continue to rise. To further complicate matters, research has shown that drought and conflict are inexorably linked, with the multi-year drought cycles greatly increasing the likelihood of sustained violence (Uexkall et al, 2016).”

PROBLEM SPACE: “Our solution is to use seawater in a low cost and practical way to grow crops in hot and arid environments. Evaporative cooling produces cooler and more humid air the “”Oasis effect”” that substantially reduces plant transpiration. The beneficial effect of cooling and fresh water production extends beyond the greenhouse itself and helps restore the water cycle and thereby replenish environments characterized by human induced desertification, salinisation, and soil depletion with one elegant solution.

The process is entirely run from renewable energy and thus, at scale, has the potential to sequester vast amounts of carbon in desert environments through this oasis effect. The two main inputs are seawater and sunlight, and the outputs are fresh produce and salt, which is then harvested and sold has “”Seawater Greenhouse Sea Salt”” (picture attached).

Three years of extensive research, modeling, and design in partnership with Aston University have allowed us to produce a radical new optimized design with vastly reduced cost. In Somaliland we are working with a local NGO partner to pilot this new design, enabling farmers to cultivate fresh produce all year round in one of the world’s harshest environments.”

UPDATE (2018): We have completed construction of our pilot greenhouse in Somaliland and happy to report the system is working as designed! We have a local team that we have trained in it’s operation and are planning roll out of an expansion phase following a Hub-Outgrower approach. Our pilot site is to become the Hub where small farmers can receive training and support while connecting with investors to set up their own Seawater Greenhouse site.

[email protected]
Charlie Patton, Director: [email protected]

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