Masdar City, a planned zero-emissions cleantech hub in the middle of Abu Dhabi, announced this weekend that it will raise between $300 and $500 million. Today Masdar announced even more significant news—the city is building the Persian Gulf's first geothermal energy facility.
The $11 billion project, scheduled to begin construction on November 1, will be partially built by Reyjkavik Geothermal. The Icelandic company has been handed a $1.6 million contract to export its geothermal know-how to energy-hungry Masdar City. When complete, the geothermal project will be used to power Masdar City's five megawatt air conditioning system. Water circulated in the geothermal wells will generate steam that turns turbines, all in an attempt to give a welcome burst of cold air to residents of the desert oasis.
The geothermal project is only a small part of Masdar City's sustainable plans. The cleantech center will also feature a 500 megawatt solar thermal plant, a 100 megawatt solar array, and a number of green energy companies.
There's just one problem: Masdar City's zero-emissions, zero-waste policy is practically insignificant alongside Dubai, the UAE's other hub of business and innovation. The infamously extravagant city throws cash at unsustainable projects like Universal Studios Dubailand and the Plastik Beach Club, but Dubai has spent very little of its oil wealth on weaning itself off petroleum. Masdar City may thrive, but Dubai has to step up its game if it doesn't want to end up in ruins.