You must admire how some people see the world differently, always trying to make a notable impact on how they will affect our world. One such person is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi), a man who understands that our future is dependent on how we reduce our carbon footprint, find other renewable energy sources, and find better ways to live on this planet. In 2006, 17 km south-west of Abu Dhabi the idea of Masdar City was conceptualised. The idea was to create a zero-carbon, zero-waste completely self-sustainable city where like-minded people and scientists could come together and find better ways to improve the world. It is no surprise that IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) decided to build their headquarters within Masdar.
It is like living in a futuristic Star Wars village with some phenomenal ideas. They have innovative ways to recycle, waste and water. Through smart design they have managed to reduce the temperature of the city by a few degrees, something so vital in a battle to reduce air-conditioning and the damaging effect it has on the planet. Masdar is home to an integrated innovative smart mobility solution, and they employ an autonomous electric Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) System moving residents and visitors around the city. Its drive to find renewable energy has led not only to the first 10 MW solar voltaic power plant in the Middle-east, but this was the impetus to creating Shams 1, a 100 MW solar power station that uses parabolic technology, enough to power 20,000 homes. For me however one of their most amazing inventions was the production of an eco-friendly plant-based jet fuel that was used to power an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, drastically reducing an airlines carbon footprint.
If you read various articles about Masdar, you will also see many cynics criticise the idea, stating that they have not achieved their goal of a zero-carbon, zero-waste city. This is where they get it wrong, the fact that the city exists, is the success story. The fact that one person has convinced another person to try and change the way we do things to save the planet is exactly what was and still is the dream. So, the next time you are in the UAE, go and visit our future!