If you get out the white pages (remember those?) and look up cleantech companies, you’ll find plenty of entries. But you won’t find many cities… yet. However, as you may know, Abu Dhabi, the capital and second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, is teaming up with the Mubadala Development Company and British architectural firm Foster and Partners to create Masdar City.
Not only will this city be the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency, its designers are planning for Masdar to be a zero-carbon and zero-waste bastion for clean technology companies. Pretty bold for a fledgling city in a country that harbors 8 percent of the world’s crude oil.
What Masdar City Will Include
The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a subsidiary of the Mubdala Development Company, is the agency principally responsible for the development of Masdar City. It has previously been involved in the manufacturing of photovoltaic films and solar energy. The new project, already six years into production with an estimated completion date somewhere between 2020 and 2025, has a projected cost of about $19 billion.
The city itself will span 6 square miles and support a population of about 50,000 people. Masdar City is also expected to host around 1,500 business, 60,000 commuting workers, and an advanced public transportation system. No cars will be allowed!
The green ethics of the city planning of Masdar incorporates a number of different renewable energy ideas. Wind farms, geothermal energy, solar power plants, solar-powered desalination, greywater recycling, waste incineration, and sustainable manufacturing are all planned for Masdar City as well.
In addition to being a model for cities which run entirely off of renewable energy, the United Arab Emirates—fast emerging as one of the global leaders in energy reform—also plans for the city to be a mecca for renewable energy production, carbon resource management, and sustainable tech financial investment and research development.
Leading the World Forward?
In essence, Masdar City is the environmental science version of a charter city, in which a sovereign, corporate-funded city becomes a haven for businesses.
We can only hope that when Masdar opens its doors to the investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and working class citizens of the world in 2025 that the trend toward green, sustainable tech and business will have taken a stronger root in the major power centers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Indeed, the prospect of reducing the geopolitical tensions over oil, as well as the lucrative financial opportunity to create a regional market for clean-tech investment, seems to be driving the UAE. It’s openly stated that it plans for its expensive, ambitious pet project to be the world’s most sustainable city.
Masdar masterplan image via Masdar
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