Masdar City-An Experimental City of the Sustainable Future


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Masdar City Building (wikimedia commons)

Today’s post will take you to a city outside  of Abu Dhabi (one of the fastest growing and hottest cities on planet Earth), where the luscious green lawns and spectacular fountains helped to display the fact that Abu Dhabi, even though located in the desert,  is a city harnessing the power of technology  to defy the laws of nature. But Abu Dhabi is not the city I want to focus our attention on today because it relies heavily on fossil fuel, the fuel of yesterday. Instead, I’d like to take you to a City of Tomorrow, the Masdar City, a new and green city built from the scratch just outside of Abu Dhabi, the Masdar City. It is the home to the largest solar power plant in the Middle East, covering  area equivalent to thirty-five football pitches via 88,000 solar panels, producing power for Masdar City and Abu Dhabi. Let’s take a look at this fantastic experimental city in the video below:

Masdar City is a planned eco-city in the United Arab Emirates ,

Masdar City Map

built by Masdar, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company, with the majority of seed capital provided by the government of Abu Dhabi. It is Designed by the British architectural firm Foster and Partners and engineering and environmental consultancy Mott MacDonald , the city relies entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a zero waste ecology. It initially aimed to be a sustainable zero-carbon car free city. Masdar City is being constructed 17 kilometres (11 mi) east-south-east of the city of Abu Dhabi, beside Abu Dhabi International Airport.  Masdar City will host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The city is designed to be a hub for cleantech companies. Its first tenant is the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which has been operating in the city since it moved into its campus in September 2010. The city as a whole was originally intended to be completed by 2016 but due to the impact of the global financial crisis, the date has now been pushed back to between 2020 and 2025. Due to the limitations found during the initial implementation, the city is now aiming to be low carbon. 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. Construction began on Masdar City in 2008 and the first six buildings of the city were completed and occupied in October 2010. Phase 1 of the city, the initial 1,000,000 square meters (0.39 sq mi), will be completed in 2015. Final completion is scheduled to occur between 2020 and 2025. The estimated cost of the city has also declined, to between US$18.7 and 19.8 billion. The city is planned to cover 6 square kilometers (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, and more than 60,000 workers are expected to commute to the city daily.

The initial design considered that automobiles would be banned within the city as travel will be accomplished via public mass transit and personal rapid transit (PRT) systems,

Podcar at a personal rapid transit (PRT) station in Masdar City (wikimedia)

with existing road and railways connecting 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.

In October 2010 it was announced the PRT would not expand beyond the pilot scheme due the cost of creating the undercroft to segregate the system from pedestrian traffic. Subsequently, a test fleet of 10 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars was deployed in 2011 as part of a one-year pilot to test a point-to-point transportation solution for the city as a complement to the PRT and the freight rapid transit (FRT), both of which consist of automated electric-powered vehicles. Under the revised concept, public transport within the city will rely on methods other than the PRTs. Masdar will instead use a mix of electric vehicles and other clean-energy vehicles for mass transit inside the city. The majority of private vehicles will be restricted to parking lots along the city’s perimeter. Abu Dhabi’s existing light rail and metro line will connect Masdar City’s centre with the greater metropolitan area.

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

Building and courtyard of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi (wikipedia)

has been behind the engineering plans of Masdar City and is at the center of research and development activities. The institute, developed in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses 70% less electricity and potable water than normal buildings of similar size and is fitted with a metering system that constantly observes power consumption.

Masdar will employ a variety of renewable power resources. Among the first construction projects will be a 40 to 60 megawatt PV solar power plant,

Masdar rooftop solar panels in city model (wikipedia)

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 solar panels will be placed on rooftops to provide supplemental solar energy totalling 130 megawatts. Besides photovoltaics, concentrated solar power (CSP) plants are also being explored. For example, so-called “beam down” CSP plants (be sure to watch the video clip) have been constructed to test the viability of the concept for use in the city. Wind farms will be established outside the city’s perimeter capable of producing up to 20 megawatts, and the city intends to utilize geothermal energy 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 plantation coconut palms that no longer bear fruit. Palmwood features include the entrance gates, screens and doors.

There are many supporters behind this project:  World Wide Fund for Nature , 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. The project is also supported by Greenpeace, which, however, stresses that there should be more focus on retrofitting existing cities to make them more sustainable rather than constructing new zero-carbon cities from scratch. The US Government has supported the project. The US Department of Energy have signed a partnership agreement with the Masdar group in a deal that will see the two organisations share expertise to support plans on zero-carbon cities. The Alliance to Save Energy honored Masdar City with a 2012 EE Visionary Award in recognition of the city’s contributions to the advancement of energy efficiency.  (wikipedia)

Let’s hope Masdar will not just be an expensive experiment but will truly become the prototype for all cities for our sustainable future.

Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on World Solar Challenge 2013 and solar energy topics:

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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