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Fact Sheet: Masdar

In April 2006, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, launched Masdar, a multi-faceted, multi-billion dollar investment in renewable and alternative energy and clean technology.  Masdar is helping to explore, develop and commercialize such future energy sources. 

Masdar, which means “the source” in Arabic, has four primary objectives:

  • To help drive the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi;
  • To maintain – and expand – Abu Dhabi’s position in evolving global energy markets;
  • To help Abu Dhabi become a developer of technology; and
  • To make a meaningful contribution to sustainable human development.

Masdar is driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC), a wholly owned company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, held through the Mubadala Development Company.

Masdar is a comprehensive investment in future energy solutions and clean technology – from design to research laboratory to mass deployment.  The elements of this investment are detailed below.

Building the World’s First Zero-Carbon, Zero-Waste City – Masdar City

In 2008, Masdar will break ground for Masdar City, the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city.  Electricity will be generated by photovoltaic panels, while cooling will be provided via concentrated solar power. Water will be provided through a solar-powered desalination plant. Landscaping within the city and crops grown outside the walled city will be irrigated with grey water and treated waste water produced by the city’s water treatment plant. Opportunities for producing biofuel are currently being evaluated along with other sources of clean, renewable energy. 

The city, growing eventually to 1,500 businesses and 50,000 residents, will be home to international business and top minds in the field of sustainable and alternative energy.  The city will be built in six square kilometers.  Of this, 30% will be zoned for housing; 24% for the business and research district; 13% for commercial purposes, including light manufacturing; 6% for the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology; 19% for service and transportation; and 8% for civic and cultural pursuits.

In June 2007, Masdar City received the first World Clean Energy Award from the Transatlantic21 Association in Basel, Switzerland.  In September 2007, the city’s design was voted “Sustainable Region/ City of the Year” at Euromoney and Ernst & Young’s Global Renewable Energy Awards.

The city’s first resident is the Masdar Institute of Science of Science and Technology, opening in 2009.

To view a video of Masdar City plans, please visit http://www.masdaruae.com/.

Masdar City Partnership with WWF’s One Planet Living

Masdar City is one of the flagship projects of the “One Planet Living™” programme – a global initiative launched by WWF (also known as the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Wildlife Fund) and environmental consultancy BioRegional.  One Planet Living™ aims to prove that it is possible to live within ecological limits and still improve the quality of people’s lives.  One Planet Living communities, such as Masdar, aim to put ten principles of sustainability into practice:  1) Zero Carbon; 2) Zero Waste; 3) Sustainable Transport; 4) Local and Sustainable Materials; 5) Local and Sustainable Food; 6) Sustainable Water; 7) Natural Habitats and Wildlife; 8) Culture and Heritage; 9) Equity and Fair Trade; 10) Health and Happiness.

However, Masdar City goes beyond the principals of One Planet Living™.  It will take sustainable development and living to a new level designed to lead the world in understanding how all future cities and towns should and could be built.

To learn more about WWF’s One Planet Living campaign, please visit http://www.panda.org/oneplanetliving.

Investing in Clean Technology

Masdar is committed to investing in innovative technologies – and the companies developing them – with the goal of bringing the next generation of sustainable solutions to market.  Masdar considers projects in all areas of renewable energy and sustainability, with an initial focus on concentrating-solar-power (CSP), solar-photovoltaic (PV), wind-energy, waste-to-energy and the solar-cooling sectors.  A range of wind and waste-to-energy projects will be operational by 2010.

Vehicles for investing in such technology include the Masdar Clean Tech Fund, a $250 million venture capital fund launched in partnership with Credit Suisse, Consensus Business Group and Siemens. The Fund deployed most of its capital in 2007, one year ahead of schedule, taking strategic equity stakes in companies such as Segway, Halosource, Europlasma, Sulfurcell, Heliovolt, SIC Processing and EnerTech Capital.

Advancing Innovation: the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) is the region’s first graduate-level, research-driven scientific institution focused on education and research in energy and sustainability and developed in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIST lies at the core of Masdar’s effort to develop the scientific and human talent required for the new clean technology sector to thrive. 

Beginning in September 2009, it will attract talented Emiratis and others from the region, and around the world.  MIST will offer full-time, two-year master of science programs, requiring prescribed coursework and a research based thesis, in engineering systems and management, information technology, materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering, and water and environment. 

MIST also encompasses the Masdar Research Network (MRN), a network of universities across the world conducting advanced research in energy and sustainability technologies.  Network partners include the following:

  • Columbia University, USA
  • Imperial College of London, UK
  • RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan
  • The German Aerospace Center (DLR)
  • Ciemat: Energy Research Center, Spain

In September 2007, HRH the Prince of Wales accepted an invitation to take on the patronage of MIST.

Expanding Solar Power

Masdar is developing strategic, large-scale energy and technology projects to drive leadership in alternative energy and to assist the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi.  These projects include alternative-energy power plants, including photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, and wind.  For example, Masdar is developing a highly-integrated solar manufacturing complex in Abu Dhabi. Spanning four square kilometers, when completed the complex will be one of the most advanced solar production centers in the world. In photovoltaics, it will house the production of polysilcon, ingots, wafers, cells and modules ― integrated to offer major cost advantages ― and a planned thin-film PV manufacturing capability that will make Masdar among the world leaders in this promising new technology.

Reducing Emissions

Masdar provides market-driven incentives by creating and monetizing greenhouse gas emission reductions, primarily in compliance with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) framework of the Kyoto Protocol.  Masdar views the CDM as an exceptional opportunity for Abu Dhabi to lead sustainable growth in the region and to simultaneously address global environmental concerns, offering companies in developing economies around the world the opportunity to receive tradable “carbon credits” against project-based emissions reduction.

Masdar is currently developing a large portfolio of CDM projects with major asset owners in the UAE and the Middle East ― including Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) and Dubai Aluminum (DUBAL). Projects include energy efficiency, industrial process improvement, flare gas recovery, power plant upgrades, CO2 recovery and re-utilization and reduction of fugitive emissions.

Establishing a Tradition: the World Future Energy Summit

From January 21-23, 2008, Masdar will host the inaugural World Future Energy Summit (WFES), which will bring together the world’s leading innovators, educators, scientists, venture capitalists and experts in the field of alternative and renewable energies. The WFES will stimulate innovative solutions for some of the most pressing challenges of our time: energy conservation, energy security, the environment and sustainable human development. The summit will be the largest meeting of the “future energy” movement and the premier event for world leaders to preview new solutions and technologies and seek partners.  The summit will be a carbon-neutral certified event.

The WFES is being held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

For more information about WFES, please visit http://www.wfes08.com/.

Sustaining a Legacy

Sustainability is one of the foundations of Abu Dhabi’s heritage.  His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, spoke of the environment as “an integral part of our country, our history and our heritage.”  As a mark of his commitment, the late Sheikh Zayed created a sanctuary for endangered species, including the Arabian Oryx and the sand gazelle. As a result, the symbol of Abu Dhabi, the Dorcas Gazelle, is a protected species whose numbers are today increasing.  And in 1995, WWF presented Sheikh Zayed with the “Golden Panda” - WWF’s highest conservation award, marking the first time in the history of the award that a head of state was so honored.

The vision and the work of Masdar is one way Abu Dhabi has chosen to honor and continue His Highness Sheikh Zayed’s legacy of environmental stewardship.

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