Financial Problems Hit Masdar City, the UAE’s Sustainable Mecca

Masdar City

Oh, Masdar City. We had such high hopes for you and your self-driving electric vehicles, giant geothermal facilities, and rooftop gardens. And the plan to generate all of your electricity from on-site renewable sources? It doesn’t get more exciting than that. But alas, the United Arab Emirates and its zero-emissions cleantech hub of a city haven’t been immune to the worldwide financial crunch. As a result, many of Masdar City’s plans have been scaled back.

Greenwire reports that Masdar City has been forced to reconsider its quest to generate all of its power from on-site sources, as well as its plan to deploy electric, self-driving “personal transit pods” throughout the city. Instead, Masdar might import power from elsewhere and limit the pods to the city’s planned research institute, dubbed the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST). And there have been layoffs, too–Masdar City’s property development unit recently laid off 34 people, or 20% of its staff.

This doesn’t mean that Masdar is dead. The city will still host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency, MIST, and a laundry list of cleantech companies. But Masdar’s financial problems mirror some of the issues the world may come across while trying to transition to sustainable technologies. If a 2.3 square miles with 50,000 inhabitants (and loads of oil wealth) can’t get it right, the rest of us will have to work extra-hard.AS