via The Guardian
Masdar City was supposed to represent the future of sustainable energy and, for a while, it did that. More than a decade in development, the planned community on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi is falling well short of its original goals. Now, what might have been the sparkling gem of the United Arab Emirates is on its way to becoming the world’s first green ghost town.
The planned carbon neutral city was originally supposed to be completed this year, but as real estate developments go, it’s far from finished. The project’s managers are turning their backs on the initial plan. Chris Wan, the city’s design manager, admits there is no way the community could reach its zero carbon goals, even if the buildings were to be completed. “We are not going to try to shoehorn renewable energy into the city just to justify a definition created within a boundary,” he said. “As of today, it’s not a net zero future, it’s about 50 percent.”
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These days, Masdar City is inhabited solely by students of the Institute of Science and Technology – around 300 or so of them. That’s a far cry from the vision for the sustainable city. It was supposed to house 50,000 residents with an additional 40,000 workers commuting to the urban hub for work. Designed by Foster + Partners and backed by a $22 billion investment from Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investment company, Masdar City was intended to be a beacon of clean energy.
Only five percent of the original plan for the city has been built to date, despite sprawling plans for state-of-the-art green office buildings. Although some 300 companies, including Siemens, GE Ecomagination, and Lockheed Martin, have a presence in Masdar City today, most are said to be more or less in name only, with no solid future plans to increase their foothold. Project planners have extended the completion date from this year to 2030, but giving up on the zero-carbon goal changes things substantially. Rather than being a shining example of clean energy at work, Masdar City is looking more like an over-ambitious farce each day.