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MASDAR CITY: BEGINNING OF A RADICALLY NEW FUTURE

In the field of physics, energy is classified as a scalar quantity. This refers to the fact that energy doesn’t have a direction, only a unit. The law of conservation of energy states that energy can not be created or destroyed. However it can be changed from one form to another. The total energy however remains the same.

In today’s world, around 18% of energy is derived from renewable energy sources like biomass, biofuel, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, tidal, wave, wind etc. Using renewable energy resource shows an huge potential in the future because of the growing awareness in sustainable development and global warming and other environmental groups that are advocating the shift towards green energy sources instead of using the rapidly depleting fossil fuels as the energy source or even nuclear energy. For instance, many scientists belonging to University of Kassel in Germany are of the opinion that the whole of Germany can potentially be powered through renewable energy.

In United Arab Emirates, there is a whole plan for a city in Abu Dhabi, known as “Masdar City” which would be the world’s first carbon neutral zero waste town. Masdar City can be compared to as the Silicon Valley for green, clean and alternative energy. it has become a worldwide center where over 1500 companies will come together and bring to the discussion the energy challenges in a city where the existing and future technologies are researched, developed, tested and implemented plus all this is funded too.

The estimated cost of this project is US $22 Billion and it can take up to 20 years to complete. The Masdar City is planned to cover around 6 square kilometers and is home to 45,000 people and around 1500 businesses. It is also the home of a university, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) which is aided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

One of the first construction projects of the Masdar City is a 60 to 80 megawatt solar power plant. Going further, a larger facility is built and additional photovoltaic modules are to be placed on rooftops so the extra solar energy can be used overall totaling around 130 megawatts. This solar plant also acts as a 50 ton air conditioning unit. There is also a 148 foot tower that diverts the flow of wind from Persian Gulf to the urban streets of the city, essentially spraying a cool, refreshing mist as it goes. Masdar City also features a 10 megawatt solar farm which uses the energy from the desert sun. on the other hand, solar canopies hang from the rooftops of the buildings to provide the much needed shade and generate power both. Outside the city’s boundaries, there are wind farms which would be able to produce 20 megawatts. Masdar City also has plans to utilize geothermal power too. An interesting fact is the ban of automobiles in this whole city. The transportation is operated through electric cars.

An important goal of Masdar City is to experiment an attempt to eliminate waste completely. Biological waste is utilized as a fertilizer to create nutrient rich soil while additional waste may be used in waste incinerator for an additional power source. Industrial wastes like plastics and metals is recycled or reconditioned according to the needs. The headquarters of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is located in the Masdar City. Masdar City is to be the world’s first carbon neutral, zero waste city which is going to be entirely powered by renewable energy. the planning of the city is centered around creating interconnectivity. Offices, shops, buildings are clustered together to minimize the time spent on travelling to from one place to another. The most common mode of transport is either on foot, bicycle or the electric cars.

However there are challenges. Since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, funding has proved to be extremely difficult. The completion date has been delayed again and again from 2015 to 2020 and now 2025. While Masdar City was built on the premise of carbon neutral city, it is now seen that this is extremely difficult to achieve and hence, Masdar City is now to become a “low carbon” city. But these setbacks do not lessen the idea behind it. Masdar City is exporting its sustainable developments and innovations to the surrounding areas which can have a far reaching impact. The Prime Minister of Jordan has agreed to the building of a 200 megawatt photovoltaic farm outside of the city of Amman after he visited Masdar City by senior officials. Moreover, the company behind the whole project of Masdar City has already built half of a 32 megawatt solar farm in Mauritania.

Masdar City has become a symbol for sustainable innovation. It is not merely a high tech area of urbanists, it is a practical proof that governments, if they want to, can indeed be highly participative in creative a different future for the benefit of everyone. The goals of Masdar City does change and are variable time by time but its essence will remain the same.

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