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Masdar unveils 'world's greenest city' PDF  | Print |  E-mail
The World Energy Summit held earlier this week in Abu Dhabi served as a showcase for Masdar, the $15bon future energy initiative that has been launched by the Abu Dhabi government. The most eye-catching aspect of the initiative is Masdar City, which is being billed as the 'greenest city in the world'. Designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, a model of the city was unveiled at the conference. The city is a dense, walled development that features low-rise buildings with solar panels on their roofs. It is hoped that the city, which will be capable of housing about 50,000 people, will serve as a model for sustainable architecture.

Zero pollution, zero waste

Masdar (which means 'the source' in Arabic) says the development will be the world's first zero-pollution, zero-waste city. A solar-photovoltaic power plant will deliver energy to buildings and solar canopies will be used to provide shade, as well as power.

The city is designed to take advantage of cool sea breezes, a technique that has been used in Arabia for ages, said Ron Heyselaar, Head of Infrastructure Projects for Masdar. The perimeter wall around the entire development will protect buildings from the scorching desert air and noise from the nearby Abu Dhabi airport.

Heyselaar pointed out that no cars will be allowed in the city, thus further reducing its carbon footprint. However, pedestrians will never be more than 200 metres from a public transport option, which will include an electric light-rail system that will be linked to the center of Abu Dhabi.

A desalination facility will be a claimed 80 per cent more efficient than existing plants, and all wastewater will be purified and recycled to grow plants that could be used for biofuels.

The city will be the home of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which backers hope will attract some of the best academics from the around the world. Also envisioned are research and development facilities from multinational companies and start-ups in the clean technology area. It will house about 1,500 businesses in total.

Masdar will break ground on the city in February, and the first residents are expected to start moving there in 2009. Construction is expected to take 10 years to complete.

Other Masdar projects

Masdar City is just one element of the Masdar Initiative, which entails projects targeting solar, wind and hydrogen power, carbon reduction and management, sustainable development, education, manufacturing, and research and development.

Masdar plans to leverage the Abu Dhabi government's initial $15bn investment with joint ventures and other investment partners for a grand portfolio many times larger comprising projects in Abu Dhabi, the MENA region and globally.

Highlights of the initiative include the Masdar Clean Technology Fund, which is dedicated to advancing renewable energy and sustainable technologies. The $250m fund has already deployed most of its capital, one year ahead of schedule.

Masdar has also announced a strategic initiative aimed at developing an Abu-Dhabi-based national network of CO2 capture and storage for enhanced oil recovery.

And recently, Masdar established the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which will award over $2m annually to honour individuals and organisations for their excellence in the innovation, development and implementation of sustainable energy solutions.

'Masdar wants to be the world leader in renewable energy and the technology therein, and create an environment that can nurture this growth,' Heyselaar said.
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