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Completion of Masdar City pushed back

Haseeb Haider / 10 October 2010

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City project, the world’s only zero-carbon residential-cum-industrial cluster, after a careful review has been pushed back following the financial crisis.

The $22 billion project, which was to be completed in 2016, has been extended until between 2020 and 2025, as the first phase will be completed in 2015.

The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, or Masdar, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-owned Mubadala Development Corporation, launched the clean energy project by setting aside $15 billion to invest in sustainable technology, a substantial amount of which has already been invested in investment funds and projects and over a dozen acquisitions made around the globe.

Part of the project plan was to attract technologists, visionaries, consultants and investors for the solar and wind power sectors.

In 2006, work started on building a unique city free of carbon dioxide, where people would not only live but would work also. Free zones incentives were offered to companies to develop clean energy technologies and engage in consultancy services to the entire world.

About 100 technology developers, SMEs and consultants have already started their businesses with many more to join soon in a city, where six buildings have already been completed, using energy conservation technologies.

But due to the impact of the financial crisis, Masdar has reviewed the project, in line with market realities and technology priorities.

“We’re building (on) take-up of our tenants, and... based on what’s happened in the market, the acquisition of tenants has slowed down a little,” Masdar City director Alan Frost was quoted as saying by AFP when asked about the delay. He also said that building over a longer period allows new technologies to be tested and incorporated.

Frost said, “The estimated cost of clean energy city was now 10 to 15 per cent lower than previously, putting it between $18.7 and 19.8 billion, instead of $22 billion”, he told the newswire.

The project review has also extended the delivery timeline, with the one million square metres Phase 1 now scheduled for completion in 2015 and the final build-out by 2020-2025, according to a statement by Masdar.

The Personal Rapid Transport system will be an ongoing pilot project within the Masdar Institute facilities, while allowing for the possibility of alternative electric vehicle technologies and transport system to be rolled out in the City, it said. “The exploration of new potential sources of power — such as geothermal energy and solar thermal cooling — with a number of pilot projects already underway,” Masdar announced.

“While still aiming to eventually be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy, Masdar City will no longer rely solely on on-site clean energy sources,” the statement by Abu Dhabi Future Energy said.

Instead, the purchase of renewable energy from off-site locations may also be utilised as energy demands increase over the project’s lifetime, it stated.

The review also confirmed the need for a phased approach to the development to allow for new technological innovations to be incorporated as building progresses.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “As technology and the market evolve so will our plan. The key is to be flexible and adaptable rather than rigid and dogmatic. We will continually review and update our thinking so Masdar is always at the cutting-edge of global clean technology”.


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