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The World’s First Zero-Emissions City…In the Middle East?

Abu_dhabi_2real_estate_3"We will no longer have to guess what the city of the future looks like. In Abu Dhabi, we will be able to see it with our own eyes."

-Paul Dickerson, chief operating officer for the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Who would have guessed that the world’s first zero-emission city would be built in oil-rich Abu Dhabi? The world will be watching the new city, which will serve as a large-scale test for renewable energy. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island off of the central western coast of the Persian Gulf. Its approximately 1,000,000 inhabitants is comprised mostly (80%) of expatriates.

Construction of the new zero-emission city started last week. It will eventually house 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses. The energy efficient buildings and infrastructure will require less energy to start with, and what little energy they do require will be supplied entirely from renewable energy sources. The very first building is a new research institute that the founders hope will be the seed for the next “Silicon Valley”. Only this time it’s in the Middle East.

But what would one of the world's largest producers of oil want to promote city life that doesn’t require oil? Isn’t that a bit like shooting yourself in the foot? Apparently even the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are willing to admit that oil isn’t a great long-term solution for the world’s growing energy needs. Known as the Masdar Initiative, the $15 billion government-funded investment program is part of a plan to ensure that the UAE's prosperity won’t always be exclusively linked to oil. In some ways Abut Dhabi is one of the few places with enough excess money to afford the venture. Enormous. Fortune ranked it the world's richest city last year.

Abu Dhabi is hoping the project will propel the country to become world leaders in renewable energy. If they succeed, says Masdar's CEO, Sultan al Jaber, "we'll be sitting on top of the world."
To the tune of $22 billion the new city will implement a variety of newer technologies. Thin-film solar panels will serve as the facades and roofing for buildings. High tech sensors will closely monitor energy use to ensure nothing is wasted. Driverless vehicles will be powered by batteries that make cars obsolete. All you do is type in your destination, and an electric carriage comes to your door to automatically take you to your destination on tracks using magnetic levitation. City founders hope say this will be the world’s biggest test bed for new technologies capable of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

What about energy hogs—you know that kind of person who leaves all the lights on in their house at all times? To keep people aware of their energy habits, sensors throughout the city will keep residents aware of how much their energy usage will cost them, which serves as a nice little reminder to keep habits reasonable. The city's designers predict that efficiency improvements will result in a 75 percent reduction in energy consumption compared with a conventional city of the same size.

The Abu Dhabi government, however, is only footing $4 billion of the bill. The rest is coming from outside investors. Masdar's leaders hope that the city's extreme sustainability, low energy costs and tax breaks will attracts buyers to the properties.

"We want it to be profitable, not a sunk cost," says Khaled Awad, who is directing the development of the city. "If it is not profitable as a real-estate development, it's not sustainable. Then it will never be replicable anywhere else."

But it’s certainly not just the investor’s that would love for the city to be a success. If the project turns out to be viable over the next couple of decades, the city’s founders say we can safely predict that other developments around the world will follow suit.

Nobuo Tanaka, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has noted, "All countries must take vigorous, immediate and collective action to curb runaway energy demand. The next ten years will be crucial for all countries... We need to act now to bring about a radical shift in investment in favor of cleaner, more efficient and more secure energy technologies."

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

Related Galaxy links:

The End of Oil?
Green Energy -The NexGen Wave is Here
Google Prepared to Spend More on Green Energy than U.S. Gov't

Comments

Intersting, thanks for posting!

Maybe Abu Dhabi's government realizes that the oil reserves they're sitting on aren't infinite, & are going to run out someday, & they won't have the West literally over a barrel forever. Seriously.

I read about this little nation in the Micronesian area of the Pacific, Nauru. They were sitting on top of one of the richest phosphate deposits in the world. However, they realized it wasn't going to be around forever, so they made contingency plans to provide for their future when the fossilized bird guano ran out.

Maybe - Just MAYBE - Abu Dhabi wants to plan ahead & support renewable fuel resources. Stranger things have happened.

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Yup, that's exactly right knoxvilledaniel. Unlike some, the UAE realises they have a lot of money from oil, but that it won't last forever. They have invested huge amounts in all sorts of things, set up a stock exchange IIRC, and are developing as much stuff as they can now while they have money, so that in the future they can continue to have money, but from other sources as their oil runs out.
They aren't just leading the world in investment in new ideas like this, they are leading the world in investment in the future of their country.
They know why they've got where they are (oil) and want to make sure they secure their future.

I have been keeping an eye on all the progress they are making over there. Very impressive! Great for them! Now to the USA...anyone see a similarity with the Mayans? Will the USA destroy itself from within?

Unfortunatly when your selling oil from a green city it really can't be rated as green if your facillitating the buring of oil overseas....a good start though.

ehh because oil reserves are finite, they will have us over the barrell. almost every country in the world is not ready within the next 15 yrs or so to move to a different energy source. so the prices are going to go up, until the demand and supply hit an equilibrium. US ppl are too used to cheap gas, everywhere else, except oil producing countries, they pay more than US at gas stations. time to bike

What a great example? They could probably get gasoline for next to nothing, but they decided to go green. Well according to this site I saw, not only Abu Dhabi, any other city can go towards zero emmissions apparently with hydrogen technology. Check it out at http://www.water4gas-scam.com There are already vehicles and cities powered by hydrogen. Missouri running on wind power, Scotland running on solar lillies, and now cars running on hydrogen, it really looks like we now have the options to go towards zero emmissions, but it all depends on the top decsion makers

With the searing well above 120F during the day and hardly any days of rain, solar power alone can take care of Abu Dhabi's energy requirements. Even the drinking water comes from desalination plants and those too could be run using solar power.

Lonyo -

Abu Dhabi & the UAE are the exceptions to the rule, then. Most oil - producing nations are too busy gouging the West, jacking up prices, etc., to worry about the future of the supplies that they're holding " for ransom ". In the case of our " ally " Saudi Arabia, we know what the money is going for, too.

The U.S. ought to do what Russia has done & convert our coal reserves into liquid fuel. Yes, I know that coal is dirty, but emissions can be cleaned up.

I'd hope that more American & European petroleum corporations would learn from this example & seriously examine & in viable alternative fuel sources. Too much to hope for ?

very nice

Abu Dhabi & the UAE are the exceptions to the rule, then. Most oil - producing nations are too busy gouging the West, jacking up prices, etc., to worry about the future of the supplies that they're holding " for ransom ". In the case of our " ally " Saudi Arabia, we know what the money is going for, too.

The U.S. ought to do what Sohbet Russia has done & convert our coal reserves into liquid fuel. Yes, I know that coal is dirty, but emissions can be cleaned up.

I'd hope that more American & European petroleum corporations would learn from Chat this example & seriously examine & in viable alternative fuel sources. Too much to hope for ?


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