The Seawater Greenhouse

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The Seawater Greenhouse




The Seawater Greenhouse is a unique concept which combines natural processes, simple construction techniques and mathematical computer modeling  to provide a low-cost solution to one of the world’s greatest needs – fresh water. The Seawater Greenhouse is a new development that offers sustainable solution to the problem of providing water for agriculture in arid, coastal regions. The process uses seawater to cool and humidify the air that ventilates the greenhouse and sunlight to distill fresh water from seawater. This enables the year round cultivation of high value crops that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to grow in hot, arid regions.


Population growth is threatening the availability of fresh water in many regions of the world. With agriculture accounting for approximately 70% of all water used, the water crisis is closely linked to food production and economic development. Conventional agriculture is very inefficient in its use of water with several hundred litres needed to produce just one kilogram of produce. Although seawater is abundant, conventional desalination consumes substantial energy, usually derived from fossil fuels. There is a need for affordable and sustainable means of producing food and water, without reliance on energy reserves.  


Self-sufficiency in water production combined with low internal irrigation requirements mean that The Seawater Greenhouse offers significant water savings by reducing agricultural demands on mains and ground water. The Seawater Greenhouse solution has the potential to make a positive impact on the impending global water crisis. It may also become the lowest cost method of desalination and perhaps the only one that is truly sustainable.


Today, the Seawater Greenhouse is ready for implementation in any arid region where a sustainable approach to agriculture and water production is needed.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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