Abu Dhabi’s carbon-neutral city Masdar
Very alternative energy recent news found online.
You’ve got to hand it to the decision makers in some places in the Middle East, not that all people will like to hear this (too bad for them), but places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai are light years ahead of the rest of the world. First off, Dubai is like a space age city – ultra modern, clean with a transportation system that puts the rest of the world to shame. The tall skyscrapers too, lend a space age impression to all those who visit. This IS the modern world. Now, Abu Dhabi is aiming to be way ahead of the rest of the world, environment wise. You’ve got lawmakers in certain western countries such as Canada and the U.S.A., whining about cutting fuel emissions and then Abu Dhabi goes and puts the rest of the world to shame. Its name is Masdar. They’re planning to build a city called Masdar which aims to be solely powered by renewable energy sources! Imagine that! It will be first in the world to be powered by the sun, the first ever zero-carbon city, carless and not a skyscraper in sight. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai seem like crazy places to build cities, but build cities they have, cities that surpass most other cities in the western world for design, convenience, sustainability, ultra modern beauty and cleanliness. So here’s the story on the latest venture coming out of the Middle East. And, speaking of ambition – can these two Emirates set examples for the rest of the world? My opinion, of course, is that Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two places in the Middle East that have “got it right,” but that’s my opinion. I’m thinking so… This article comes from the BBC news site, but I just had to include this story here:
The genius of Masdar – if it works – will be combining 21st Century engineering with traditional desert architecture to deliver zero-carbon comfort. And it is being built now.
Masdar will be home to about 50,000 people, at least 1,000 businesses and a university.
It is being designed by British architects Foster and Partners, but it is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is paying for it. And it will cost between £10bn ($15bn) and £20bn ($30bn).
The architects are turning the desert’s greatest threat – the sun – into their greatest asset.
They have built the biggest solar farm in the Middle East to power the city and to offset the inevitable burning of diesel and baking of cement in construction.
They are also experimenting. One project involves a circular field of mirrors on the ground, all reflecting towards a tower in the middle.
That, in turn, bounces the light down in a concentrated beam about a metre (3ft) wide to produce heat and drive generators.
But I was told firmly not to wander over and feel the warmth, as it could fry me in seconds.
The international team of engineers have real pride in their work.
This is more than building to them, it is a lab bench with the freedom to get it wrong, and Masdar’s chief architect Gerard Evenden loves the concentration of expertise: “What Abu Dhabi is beginning to generate is the Silicon Valley of renewable energy.”
The Emirates have seen one of the world’s most spectacular building booms paid for by oil and made tolerable by air conditioners, which also depend on oil to feed their vast appetite for energy.
But Masdar will have to be low temperature and low carbon.
Part of the solution is apparent the moment you walk in. And you do “walk in” because this is a city surrounded by a wall, a defined boundary.
Unlike the upward and outward sprawl of Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Masdar is compact like ancient Arab cities.
Streets are narrow so buildings shade each other, and the walls and roofs of buildings will do their bit to shed heat too.
The vertical faces are dressed with screens which look like a terracotta mesh. They keep the sun out but let the breeze in.
And as architect Gerard Evenden says: “Lunar technology has begun to influence our thinking.”
One idea being tested is using a thin foil surface covering, a gas or vacuum blanket, to keep the heat out. It is an idea dreamt up for a moon base.
To encourage a breeze, wind towers are being built, drawing draughts through the streets without using energy.
Masdar will still use electricity for gadgets, some air conditioning and, most crucially, to desalinate sea water but, when it comes to power, the city has a simple mantra: “Only use energy when you have exhausted design.”
Conventional cars must be checked in at the city gates and then you can choose between the oldest and newest modes of transport.
At street level, it is all pedestrianised and the planners have done their best to keep the city compact and foot-friendly.
But if fatigue overtakes you, then slip down a level and meet the Personal Rapid Transit or podcars.
These driverless vehicles are guided by magnetic sensors, powered by solar electricity, and they stop automatically if an obstacle appears. They are programmed to go where you ask.
Kaled Awad, director of the Masdar project claims: “The quality of air will be better than any other street in the Gulf and in the world, and that alone will bring you safety, health and happiness.”
On top of the wind tower, there will be a beacon betraying the city’s actual energy use: red for too much, blue for just right.
It will be 45m (147ft) up and visible for miles around so, when Masdar is finished in five to 10 years’ time, we will all know if it is in the red.