I recently attended the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, and was quite amazed with some of the technologies that are available to support sustainable energy and reduce carbon emissions. Products ranged from specialized treatments to reduce friction from Lofrix to a complete city plan for Masdar, the carbon neutral/zero waste development that is getting under way. The displays for Masdar were absolutely stunning, with architectural models showing some of the key features of Masdar headquarters and other buildings.
Abu Dhabi sits on top of 90% of the United Arab Emirates, ~97.8 billion barrels of oil, the fifth largest in the world. Despite the fall in oil prices, they are still moving ahead with major projects in alternative energy. Abu Dhabi plans to generate 7% of its energy from alternative sources by 2020, including its most abundant resource, sunlight. In his opening remarks, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Masdar CEO, stated that "Despite the economic downturn, nothing has changed. We still can and we should go ahead with alternative energy plans".
According to Subhash Bhatia at CH2MHill, the project managers for Masdar, they are planning to generate 240MW of solar energy, and only consume 150MW, selling the surplus to the grid during the day, and buying back at night. Masdar announced the creation of Masdar PV (photovoltaic), a $600M investment for plants in Germany and Abu Dhabi. They have also made major investments in WinWinD of Finland for 1 and 3 MW wind turbines.
On my final afternoon in the UAE, Sukhi Gill, another EDS Fellow, and I took a trip up to Dubai, and marveled at the buildings that are going up along the coast, including the Burj Dubai, the world's current leader in tall buildings. Burj Dubai reached its final height of 818 m (2,684 ft) on January 17, 2009. That distinction may soon be eclipsed, as there is currently a brochure floating around for a Dubai City Tower that will have 400 inhabitable floors and be 2.4 km (~1.5 miles) tall. It does have solar panels and other green features, but still...