OIL MONEY TO BUILD GREEN CITY
The ambitiousness of the plan is breathtaking. The money behind it is virtually inconceivable. And, as with all grand undertakings, there is doubt.
If they find the human power to transform vision into reality, they will show the world how to sustainably manage the growing burden of urbanization. China is building two cities the size of Manhattan every year. If those cities could be like this one…
Guess Who’s Building a Green City? In a delicious irony, Abu Dhabi is pouring oil billions into a zero-emissions metropolis in the desert
Stanley Reed, December 13, 2007 (BusinessWeek)
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (initiator); London architects Foster & Partners (planners); Sultan Al Jaber (CEO of the government-funded initiative-leading organization); Mubadala Development (the Abu Dhabi investment company parent to Masdar as well as the Carlyle Group)
The project is not very far along yet but the dreams are big and the ambition is admirable. (click to enlarge)
The project and the city called Masdar (Arabic for "the source") is a futuristic 100,000-resident city being built in sandy waste by the Persian Gulf. It will be the world's first zero-carbon (not carbon-neutral but zero-carbon) city.
- The three-day World Future Energy Summit will be in Abu Dhabi in January 2008.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan started the project in 2004 by asking aides for a project to energize and diversify the country.
- Masdar will be the home of the Masdar Institute, a small research university to be developed with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It will specializing in renewable technologies, will be the first functioning unit in the new city, and will open to 100 students and 30 faculty Fall 2009.
- 1,600 acres of sand dotted with small, forlorn trees in the tiny, oil-rich Persian Gulf nation of Abu Dhabi.
- Funding is also coming from London and New York.
- Masdar will have twin solar plants in Germany.
The Tameer Towers will be a sustainable skyscraper. (click to enlarge)
- Masdar will be “a cross between The Arabian Nights and The Jetsons.” Drawing on traditional Arabic architecture, it will have wind towers to funnel air as natural air conditioning and fountains to moisturize the dry air.
- Its narrow streets where there will be no cars will cut demand for cooling. Residents will walk, bicycle, or ride small, driverless vehicles running on underground paths.
- It will also have the most advanced technology available.
- Power will come mainly from solar.
- There has been a $250 million investment fund in clean-tech companies and a new $1 billion fund is planned.
- There will be New Energy from research to large-scale manufacturing. Jaber is close to signing a $500 million thin-film solar panels deal.
- The 300 megawatts of solar power for the Masdar will cost $1 billion+.
- The project is very popular in Abu Dhabi because it generates jobs, fights climate change and gives neighboring Dubai competition.
The Skytower will be Abu Dhabi's tallest skyscraper. (click to enlarge)
Jaber: "What could be better for Abu Dhabi than investing our oil and gas revenues [in something] that will give us leadership in the future? … We will need the most extreme energy-efficiency standards from the beginning…"