A zero carbon city, the future home of the International Renewable Energy Agency, is rising from the desert outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The first tenants of Masdar City have moved into this experiment community which aims to replace the UAE’s main source of energy – oil – with it’s equally abundant renewable resource – solar power. Students and staff at the Masdar Institute, a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are the guinea pigs having all their energy usage monitored as they live in futuristic buildings and move around in driverless electric vehicles.
Plans are for the city to grow to 7,000 residents by 2015. Already some of the proposed technologies have been scaled back. Solar panels on all the roofs have been dropped in favor of a centralized solar farm outside the city and the proposed solar powered desalination plant has been put on hold.
Will it prove to be the cutting edge incubator of new technologies in reducing our carbon footprint or an expensive public relations exercise by an oil rich kingdom?