Masdar is a project in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Its core is a planned city which is being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company, with the majority of seed capital provided by the government of Abu Dhabi. Designed by the British architectural firm Foster & Partners, the city will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. The city is being constructed 17 kilometres (11 mi) east-south-east of the city of Abu Dhabi beside Abu Dhabi International Airport.
DESIGN AND INTENT
The project is headed by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC). Initiated in 2006, the project was projected to cost US$22 billion and take some eight years to build, with the first phase scheduled to be completed and habitable in 2009. However, due to the impact of the financial crisis, Phase 1 of the city will be completed in 2015 with the final completion occurring by 2020-2025. The estimated cost of the city has also declined by 10 to 15 per cent, putting the development between US$18.7 and 19.8 billion. The city is planned to cover 6 square kilometres (2.3 sq mi) and will be home to 45,000 to 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses, primarily commercial and manufacturing facilities specialising in environmentally friendly products. More than 60,000 workers are expected to commute to the city daily. It will also be the location of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), which will be assisted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Automobiles will be banned within the city. Travel will be accomplished via public mass transit and personal rapid transit systems with existing roads and railways connected to other locations outside the city. The absence of motor vehicles coupled with Masdar's perimeter wall, designed to keep out the hot desert winds, allows for narrow and shaded streets that help funnel cooler breezes across the city.
Masdar City will be the latest of a small number of highly planned, specialized, research and technology-intensive municipalities that incorporate a living environment similar to Novosibirsk, Russia or Tsukuba Science City, Japan.
Masdar will employ a variety of renewable power resources. Among the first construction projects will be a 40 to 60 megawatt solar power plant built by the German firm Conergy which will supply power for all other construction activity. This will later be followed by a larger facility, and additional photovoltaic modules will be placed on rooftops to provide supplemental solar energy totalling 130megawatts. Wind farms will be established outside the city's perimeter capable of producing up to 20 megawatts, and the city intends to utilise geothermal power as well. In addition, Masdar plans to host the world's largest hydrogen power plant.
Water management has been planned in an environmentally sound manner as well. A solar-powered desalination plant will be used to provide the city's water needs which is stated to be 60 percent lower than similarly sized communities. Approximately 80 percent of the water used will be recycled and waste water will be reused "as many times as possible," with this greywater being used for crop irrigation and other purposes.
The city will also attempt to reduce waste to zero. Biological waste will be used to create nutrient-rich soil and fertiliser and some may also be utilised through waste incineration as an additional power source. Industrial waste, such as plastics and metals, will be recycled or re-purposed for other uses.
The exterior wood used throughout the city is Palmwood, a sustainable hardwood-substitute developed by Pacific Green using senile plantation coconut palms. Palmwood features include the entrance gates, screens and doors.
The project is supported by the global conservation charity World Wide Fund for Nature and the sustainability group BioRegional. In response to the project's commitment to zero carbon, zero waste and other environmentally friendly goals, WWF and BioRegional have endorsed Masdar City as an official One Planet Living Community.
Some skeptics are concerned that the city will only be symbolic for Abu Dhabi and that it may become just a luxury development for the wealthy. Nicolai Ouroussoff calls it the ultimate gated community, "the crystallization of another global phenomenon: the growing division of the world into refined, high-end enclaves and vast formless ghettos where issues like sustainability have little immediate relevance."
Masdar City will be a carbon-neutral city being built from the ground up where no internal combustion vehicles will be used within the city limits. People will get around on foot or bike above ground or with driverless pods beneath the city. An inspiration! The world must come together to help make this happen everywhere!