Masdar city: the carbon neutral city :
In the heart of the United Arab Emirates, the Masdar city project is taking root. This model city project is based on energy transition and sustainable development. At the time of construction launch, it was planned that the city would welcome 52 000 inhabitants, 40 000 workers and 1 500 companies. 10 years later, no more than 100 habitants live there. Some even talk about a ghost town.
In 2006, the Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber of Abu Dhabi had taken the initiative of creating an oasis in the middle of the desert. Morever, it is not a coincidence if Masdar means “the source” in Arabic. The city of Masdar had the ambition of using only sustainable energy, having a low carbon transportation network and an ambitious recycling policy.
The project announcement had attracted a lot of enthusiasm. As an example, WWF association had expressed support for the project at his launch.
Masdar ecocity : a symbol for the green transition
Oil reserves in the Abu Dhabi region are valued at 7% of world reserves.
The black gold country decided to bet on the green energy, in order to anticipate the post-oil era, when the region’s reserve will be drained. The government has disbursed the disproportionate amount of $ 22 billion to promote this project.
The prestigious British architecture firm Foster + Partners was designated to manage the project.
The construction site itself had to meet the criteria of the sustainable development.
The idea was to combine Arab ancestral technologies and advanced technologies :
The architecture was inspired by ancient Arab cities with the creation of air circulation corridors to create a natural ventilation, the use of moucharabieh windows, low buildings. A majestic wind tower, inspired by traditional models, brings fresh air to the center of the city.
Regarding the energy, the city of tomorrow should be mainly powered by solar energy. The rooftops of the city should be covered with photovoltaic panels.
A point of honor will be placed on the purification of wastewater. Once treated, the water will be injected into a micro-irrigation system. Micro-irrigation is particularly suitable for arid zones. This method of irrigation minimizes the use of water and fertilizer.
As far as transportation is concerned, cars will not have a place in the city of the future. An individual metro, the « Personal Rapid Transit » will be put in place with carts that can accommodate 4 people, it will also run on rails with sensors to avoid collisions.
The ambition to create the city was announced in 2006. The construction site began in 2008. But what is it now?
Masdar an oasis illusion ?
For the moment, the success of the city is not there and the end of the project will have to be postponed to 2030.
Indeed, only 5% of the city was built and a few people live in the city. Some say that the city has rather turned into a city tour to be contemplated by tourists.
One of the reasons most often advanced in order to justify they delay is the 2008 financial crisis. The budget had to be reduced to 18 billion dollars. Unfortunately, not all innovations will be able to reach the announced size. All rooftops cannot be equipped with state-of-the-art photovoltaic panels. Ditto for the transport network that will not serve the entire city.
But Masdar has not yet said it’s last word. Several incentives are put in place to create an environment favorable to the installation of innovation start-ups.
Masdar is a giant laboratory of innovation. Since the bar was set so high, we can easily understand that the city takes time to spring from the ground, This project on the Utopian side is far from perfect. But it has the merit of insufflating a wind of hope.
Pour en savoir plus :