Masdar: Oil wealth fuels construction of an ecologicalcity in the Arabian desert.
A sheikhdom whose wealth rests on black gold is building a city that will not rely on any of it. Subterranean electric cars—dubbed Personalized Rapid Transit—will ferry passengers from point to point because the city of Masdar, whose name translates as “the source,” will be off-limits to automobiles. Solar power plants in the surrounding sand, already in early construction, will provide electricity for lighting and air-conditioning and for desalinating ocean water. Wind farms will contribute, along with efforts to tap geothermal energy buried deep underneath the earth. The municipality, which will ultimately aim to be zero carbon and zero waste, will boast a plant to produce hydrogen as well as fuel from the residents’ sewage, according to planners Foster + Partners. Perhaps most important for the desert city, all water will be recycled; even residents’ wastewater will be used to grow crops in enclosed, self-sustaining farms that will further recycle their own water. “We must fundamentally rethink how cities can conserve energy and other resources,” said Sultan Al Jaber, Masdar Initiative CEO, this past June in an address to a U.S. congressional committee. “We must heavily employ new technologies and even create new urban models.”
Note: This article was originially printed with the title, "Eco-Cities of the Future".