Posted by Jacob Saliba on February 18, 2016 in Blog
When you look at the accumulated wealth of oil rich Arab Gulf states many broad often exaggerated generalizations come to mind. One of those would be the dependency of these Arab countries on fossil fuels, a form of energy you will be quick to say is not sustainable and quite poisonous to our atmosphere. But as the entire planet continues to guzzle gas, the United Arab Emirates is innovating an oil-free plan for the future. That’s right, the future of clean energy is being ushered in by the Gulf.
Located five minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport and 20 minutes from the city core, Masdar City is a one of a kind fully sustainable urban center with zero waste, featuring residences, schools, parks, restaurants and electric transportation. Projected to have an estimated population of 40,000 people by 2025, Masdar City is leading the way in developing renewable energy sources and infrastructures. Pioneering these efforts is the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology which was established at the core of the city in 2010. The Institute hosts several hundred research students testing and implementing their innovations all around them, making Masdar City the largest renewable energy resource lab on the planet.
Mixing architecture and artistic influences of the region's most ancient Arab cities with new age research and design, Masdar to it’s core, seemingly mixes elements of age-old tradition and cutting-edge design. One of these elements, the narrow streets and passageways, create shade and airflow, while at the same time absorbing immense amounts of solar energy. This, combined with the central wind tower, spanning way above the rooftops, keeps the city at a staggering 10℃ cooler than the rest of Abu Dhabi. The diverse solar panels onsite and in the desert provide for the city with room left over for the nearby airport and city centers. Additionally, these panels function as heating and cooling water systems and air conditioning the buildings affording the community with a 40% reduction in water and energy consumption.
A whopping 95% of products used at Masdar City and Institute – including construction materials – are either reused and recycled. Everything from concrete, metals, woods and plastics, the construction groups and research teams do everything they can to find a purpose for all products left unused. With no area going underdeveloped, even the underground has been constructed as a transportation hub for personal electric vehicles to move residents throughout the city. Additionally, the use of public rail and the easily walkable city will prove that nothing in the town is within far reach, making the project accessible to even the elderly and physically impaired.
Masdar is not only consulting on projects on campus or even just in the UAE, it is leading sustainability initiatives across the world in places like London, the Seychelles, Afghanistan, and the Samoas. Their work delivers renewable energy and clean technology like wind farms, solar power systems, and carbon capture projects to locations that are frequently remote, complex and often difficult to operate in.
|AAI's Arab American Leadership Council Middle East Study Tour took 6 elected officials to Masdar City in January 2016. Learn about the ALC program here: aaiusa.org/alc
Being an integral part of the current energy industry, the country wants to maintain their status far after their oil deposits are dried up. At the core of Masdar City funding is the government of the UAE itself. Recognizing the need for diversification, the oil rich Emirate of Abu Dhabi knows petro will not always be the way forward. Becoming a hub of the renewable energy movement, the Emirate sponsors the direct construction and planning of the city and research institute and awards the annual “Zayed Future Energy Prize”. Internationally, the United Arab Emirates has won the bid to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) within Masdar City limits, offering 20 IRENA scholarships to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, rent-free offices in the Masdar urban core and up to $350 million in loans for sustainable energy projects in the developing world. In Arabic, Masdar means source, and what a source it has Masdar City become. Using their oil wealth to create a future for energy, the UAE and their partners have taken the initiative in creating renewable sources for the future of our children and planet.
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