Abstract The proposed innovative approach identifies a new application for biomass. Bioenergy is used to drive a desalination unit which produces water for irrigating energy crops. Biomass is cultivated on artificial soil made by a mixture of local soil and organic compost from MSW (Municipal Solid Wastes). This agro-energy farm scheme aims at rescuing arid lands near to the sea. The study defines a techno-economic compromise among energy crops, biomass generator, desalination unit and irrigation system, considering an arid area (10 ha) of Tenerife as reference case study. A small experimental activity (100 m 2 ) has also been performed on site. A Sweet Sorghum cultivation, a bioenergy generator, a reverse osmosis plant and drip irrigation system have been chosen. The main result of the study is that the possibility of retaining some 14–20% surplus (in terms of biomass or energy or water) exists. The system is energetically feasible: rescued land can be doubled in approximately 4 yr. This approach is applicable to many Mediterranean coastal areas, as well as other similar situations elsewhere.

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