Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in the KSA

Exploring integrative, technology-centered crop production systems to enable sustainable agriculture in the KSA and beyond
Controlled environment agriculture, in which the environmental conditions around the crop are controlled, to an extent, to provide more favorable conditions for growth, will play a significant role in providing fresh vegetables and fruits to regions like the KSA/Arabian Peninsula, where open-field agriculture is challenged by acute water scarcity and harsh climatic conditions.

Beginning in July 2022, the CDA has launched several pilot projects within the CEA domain, in collaboration with Red Sea and external industry partners, exploring different aspects of CEA design and engineering that will increase the viability of CEA in the KSA and other hot, arid regions.


CO2 in CEA

The current CEA pilot projects include novel carbon dioxide capture and enrichment strategies for greenhouse crop production systems. Depending on many factors, CO2 enrichment in greenhouses can significantly increase yields, which strengthens the argument for CEA as the most space use-efficient method to grow food. However, the sourcing and delivery of pure CO2 often makes this cultivation strategy inefficient and cost-prohibitive for growers, especially in regions where greenhouses need to be cooled (as opposed to heated). The CDA-CEA team aims tackle these challenges for CO2 enrichment in greenhouses in the KSA. Project partners include Red SeaGulf CryoCO2Gro, and CarbonNet.



Agrivoltaics is the co-location of solar photovoltaics with agriculture, with the aim to synergistically produce renewable energy and crops on the same land footprint. As part of the Vision 2030 agenda, KSA is implementing a significant expansion of its solar PV infrastructure in the coming decades to help facilitate its transition to clean energy. Meanwhile, innovation in the KSA agricultural sector is also critical to mitigate the unsustainable usage of groundwater for irrigation and protect crops and animals from heat stress. Agrivoltaics is an important solution to simultaneously realize these goals in renewable solar energy and sustainable food production in the KSA.

The CDA is working with the KAUST Solar Center on a study to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of various agrivoltaics schemes in the KSA, and NEOM specifically. An agrivoltaics pilot installation is also planned for the future KAUST Experiment Station at Wadi Qadid National Park (KNESEO), to support research and extension activities related to agrivoltaics.



The CEA pilot projects are led by Dr. Rebekah Waller.

date palm project