Special Reports
World’s First Zero-Carbon City

By Joshua S Hill
January 23, 2008

For those of you like me – with a sizeable Star Trek/Sci-Fi fetish – then this
news is going to make your heart leap. The world’s first zero-carbon city will
begin construction soon in the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi, starting in February.

Named Masdar City, the city will be able to house 50,000 people and will run
entirely on renewable energy. This will include using solar power to its limits
in the sun drenched desert. "This is a place that has no carbon footprint and
will not hurt the planet in any way," Khaled Awad, director of the Masdar
project’s property development unit of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company
(ADFEC), told AFP. "At the same time the city will offer the highest quality of
life possible for its residents.”

Completion is expected in 2013, and the city will take on a futuristic turn.
Light-railway lines and a series of automated transporter pods will be the
primary modes of transportation, with cars off-limits. "They’re like a
horizontal elevator. You just say where you want to go, and it takes you there,"
Awad said of the pods.

The city will focus on low-rise buildings, in comparison to the spiraling towers
of Abu Dhabi next door (the city). Solar panels adorn each of the roofs of these
buildings, as seen in the model on display at the World Future Energy Summit in
Abu Dhabi.

Taking advantage of the sea breezes, the city will also sport a perimeter wall
which will help to protect it from the hot desert air, and dampen noise of the
nearby Abu Dhabi airport.

The zero-carbon city is part of the larger Masdar Initiative, launched by the
wealthy Abu Dhabi government, who sits upon 150 years worth of oil reserves, and
untold gas reserves as well.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahayan, has pledged
15 billion dollars to Masdar, at the opening of the three-day summit.

"Rest assured, the Masdar initiative and Abu Dhabi will continue to play its
part" in developing alternative energy sources, Sheikh Mohammed told some 3,000
delegates gathered for the annual event. (Check this out for more info.)

The Masdar Initiative is definitely well funded, with a $350 million
100-megawatt solar plant to be constructed, later to be increased to 500
megawatts, as well as a university for future energy studies which will run in
collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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