Masdar is a renewable energy company occupying a space of six square kilometres near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is a strategic government initiative to promote and extend global energy leadership beyond hydrocarbons, backed by a $15 billion commitment from the Abu Dhabi government. Though surrounded by some of the world’s most unsustainable developments, Masdar is on a mission to incubate and advance clean energy, to become a catalyst for economic diversification, and to pioneer and establish commercially viable renewable technologies and systems. Masdar is a big player in windfarm developments off Britain’s East coast.
Masdar has adopted an integrated, holistic business model – merging a university, R&D in renewable industries, investment and at its core, a planned low carbon city, a sustainable urban arcology project designed by British architects Foster + Partners. Masdar City was designed as a clean-tech cluster with special economic zone incentives to commercialise and deploy new energy technologies in the Middle East.
The company comprises three integrated business units complemented by the Masdar Institute – a graduate level, independent research university dedicated to advancing renewable energy and sustainable technologies. Masdar Clean Energy is a renewable energy developer and investor, building some of the world’s most sophisticated clean energy projects. Masdar Capital invests in promising clean-tech companies to mature the technologies that will power a more sustainable future. Though surrounded by some of the world’s most unsustainable developments, Masdar is on a mission to incubate and advance clean energy, to become a catalyst for economic diversification, and to pioneer and establish commercially viable renewable technologies and systems.
The project has encountered delays, necessitating changes to the initial plans. Not least among the problems has been the crude oil price drop and Abu Dhabi having to bail out the city of Dubai. Masdar City has attracted far fewer companies than projected when it was founded in 2006. Its completion date has been put back to 2025.
The UAE is the world’s eighth-biggest oil producer, where subsidised diesel costs the equivalent of only 30p a litre and the wide roads are built for motorists. According to a 2010 report by the World Wildlife Fund, UAE citizens have the world’s largest carbon footprint.
Anomalous, Masdar acknowledges the oil will run out one day. The project aims to prove that cities can be sustainable, even in harsh environments. The development is energy efficient and almost car-free. Cars have been replaced by a series of driverless electric vehicles that transport residents beneath the site. Paradoxically, the lack of affordable housing means that most of the city’s workforce must drive to their jobs.
The entire community is powered by a 22-hectare field of 87,777 solar panels with more on the roofs of the buildings. The design of the walls of the buildings (cushions of air limit heat-radiation) has helped reduce demand for air conditioning by 55%. There are no light switches or taps — just movement sensors that the Masdar authorities say have cut electricity consumption by 51% and water usage by 55%.
http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/12/features/reality-hits-masdar Reality hits Masdar