Creating an environmental dreamland: A zero-emissions city in the Middle East

Reader Contribution by Madeline Hyden

 A city with no carbon emissions? It sounds impossible, especially in the oil-rich Middle East, but a $22 billion, zero-emissions city began construction earlier this month near Abu Dhabi in the Persian Gulf.

The government-funded venture, called the Masdar Initiative, located in the United Arab Emirates off the coast of the Persian Gulf, will be used as a large-scale test for future renewable energy plans. According to an article published by Technology Review, the Masdar Initiative will house 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses, and all energy will come from renewable resources.

While the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the world’s largest producers of oil, a culprit of greenhouse gas emissions, the country’s leaders acknowledge that oil is becoming a limited resource for the world’s growing energy demands. According to an article on The Hindustan Times, the Masdar Initiative is the first step in a plan to make the UAE a country that relies less on oil. Masdar’s CEO, Sultan al Jaber, says he hopes the project will put the UAE as a frontrunner for leading the world in renewable energy practices.   

Building a city from scratch gives builders an advantage. Since most energy-saving techniques are usually add-ons to existing facilities, the Masdar Initiative is able to incorporate energy-saving features into the actual city structures. Sensors will be installed in all buildings and houses to monitor energy use, and residents will be constantly notified of their energy consumption to avoid waste and high costs. Thin solar panels will be installed on all rooftops and most streets and areas between buildings are covered to utilize the sun’s rays for energy. Public transportation will be taken to another level thanks to battery-powered driverless vehicles that pick-up and drop off their passengers when they type in their destination. Surrounding land will contain wind and photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations, all to ensure self-sustainability.

If the Masdar Initiative is successful, its founders are hopeful that other countries and cities around the world will follow suit. This could be the first of many steps in the process of moving our planet toward less dependency on fossil fuels and more focus on renewable energy.

Check out Technology Review’s article to see photos of the driverless transports and solar panels that will be included in the Masdar Initiative.