Renewable energy initiative starts production on carbon-neutral city

11 February 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Construction has begun on the world's first carbon-neutral city in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates – a country which has one of the world's worst environmental histories.

With its penchant for round-the-clock air conditioning and reliance on the motor car, Abu Dhabi seems an unlikely location for a zero-carbon impact city which hopes to become a model for future sustainable development.

However, known for its reliance on the oil-industry, the area is undergoing changes in response to the challenges it faces, and foresees future hardships if it does not develop alternative forms of industry in preparation for when the oil runs out.

The new city is part of Abu Dhabi's renewable energy initiative – Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. or Masdar – to meet the rising demand on utilities, and will help to secure it as an expert in the field of green energy, maintaining its stronghold on the energy industry once the oil stops flowing.

Abu Dhabi will spend $22 billion developing Masdar City, which, when it is completed, will save the equivalent of $2 billion in oil over 25 years, and will use 75 per cent less power than a conventional city, in addition to less than half the amount of desalinated water.

Masdar will be located across 6.5 square kilometres and intends to house 1,500 businesses and 50,000 residents by 2016, with virtually no waste or landfill, compared to the millions of square metres ordinarily required for a city of its size.

It will leave no carbon footprint, by attracting experts in sustainable transportation, investing in waste management, water and waste-water conservation, green construction, recycling, biodiversity, and environmentally friendly financial institutions. It will rely on renewable energy resources such as solar and hydrogen power, in addition to growing the appropriate industries there to provide these facilities.

"I would like to underscore the government of Abu Dhabi's commitment to the Masdar initiative by announcing an initial investment of $15 billion," Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, told the World Future Energy Summit in the emirate, Reuters has reported. "Next month ground will be broken on Masdar city, the world's first carbon-neutral city."

As reported in the BYM Marine Environment News, Chief Executive of Masdar, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said: "We are creating a city where residents and commuters will live the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint.

"Masdar City will become the world's hub for future energy. By taking sustainable development and living to a new level, it will lead the world in understanding how all future cities should be built."

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