For almost half a century Abu Dhabi has been a world leader in energy production. Now the nation is keen to play its full part in the development and implementation of alternative sources of energy. Masdar is the catalyst for fusing research and innovation from the world’s finest academic institutions and international corporations.
The Masdar community along with its education and research, innovation and commercialization and production facilities will be located in a new walled city covering 640 hectares. The site is strategically located adjacent to Abu Dhabi International Airport, linking the communities of Raha Beach, Kalifa City and Yas Island.
Masdar City, through a micro-chip-like network of connections, will bring together the talent, expertise and resources to enable global technological breakthroughs in advanced energy technologies which will contribute to the future of environmental sustainability. The people of Abu Dhabi and the region will benefit from a new university education and research center, the MASDAR Institute of Science and Technology (in partnership with MIT), which will offer Masters and PhD programs in science and engineering disciplines focused on advanced energy and sustainability. Special economic zones will attract business and commercial partners focused on advanced and sustainable energy systems and technologies from all over the world, from tiny start-ups to major corporations.
From the construction phase onwards the Masdar project will create sustainable local employment, eventually facilitating a population of 100,000. The first stage of the development will set the tone for the entire project; the construction of a state-of-the-art photovoltaic power plant will deliver the energy required to build the entire new city. Masdar will be a compact, high-density city completely free from cars and their emissions; a world model of energy conservation with zero carbon emissions and zero waste. Compared to average urban levels, fossil fuel consumption will be reduced by 75%, water demand by 300% and waste production by 400%.
Cycling and walking will be the most popular means of travel. The masterplan means no one will be further than 200 metres from essential facilities, including shops selling locally grown produce. A fully automated, electric Personal Rapid Transit System (PRTS) will provide a flexible and comfortable alternative to private cars. A Light Railway Transport (LRT) system will link the Masdar development to adjacent developments, the international airport and in the future with the centre of Abu Dhabi.
A principal sustainability feature of the development is the integration of technology in the management of public spaces and the real time monitoring of energy use and carbon emissions. Masdar City will be a "smart" green city where digital management and intelligent systems with sensors and data mining will provide information to support the decisions of individuals and service providers.
Masdar City is designed in direct response to the local climate and cultural traditions, particularly its solar movements and prevailing winds. The city’s orientation captures cooling sea breezes from the North, whilst its perimeter protects against the warmer desert winds. The Eastern wall facing the international airport will be raised to provide a buffer, reducing aircraft noise within the city. Shaded by photovoltaic collecting canopies, courtyards and wind towers will draw cooling breezes into the narrow streets and filter the harsh sunlight, conjuring images of ancient bazaars and market places.
Construction materials with a high thermal mass will considerably reduce energy requirements. The relationship of one building to the next will provide shading and generate year round useable spaces in-between. Solar collectors to roofs throughout the development and wind turbines at the outskirts will power the city, making it sustainable with zero CO2 emissions. The perimeter wall will form an intelligent outer shell, housing the energy, environmental and recycling services.
Water management will be central to the environmental system of the Masdar development. A solar powered desalination plant will provide a potable drinking water supply.
Wastewater will be purified and recycled back to the city. In the process, it will be used to grow tree plantations, contributing to the biofuel strategy.
As the city’s population grows and water volumes increase, so too will the number of trees, a visual statement on the growth of the city. The unique design of its walled city will show both energy and water conservation can be achieved while also greatly enhancing the quality of life.
Masdar demonstrates Abu Dhabi’s commitment to the challenges and search for solutions to some of mankind’s most pressing issues: energy security, the environment and truly sustainable human development and provides a model for international cooperation and legislation.