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Sat 1 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Work starts on Masdar city

The zero carbon city will be home to some 50,000 residents following its completion in 2016.

The zero carbon city will be home to some 50,000 residents following its completion in 2016.

Groundbreaking has kicked off on the zero-carbon, zero-waste Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. A virtual cornerstone was laid to mark the occasion.

The 6.5 km mixed-use development is set to be completed in 2016.

At the ceremony held last month, Masdar CEO Sultan Al Jaber revealed a development budget of US $22 billion for the project.

"We are creating a city where residents and commuters will live the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint," Al Jaber commented. "Masdar City will become the world's hub for future energy. By taking sustainable development to a new level, it will lead the world in understanding how all future cities should be built.

The majority of the city's electricity will be generated by photovoltaic panels, while cooling will be supplied via concentrated solar power. A solar-powered desalination plant will provide water for the 1,500 businesses and 50,000 residents expected to be accommodated at the site. Grey water and treated wastewater will be used for irrigation. The carbon emissions savings from the project are set to be monetised under the Kyoto Protocol's clean development mechanism.

At the end of January, Masdar announced it had teamed up with Hydrogen Energy, a 50:50 joint venture between BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto, to develop hydrogen-fuelled power. The parties intend to build a US $2 billion hydrogen-fired power plant with carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, in Abu Dhabi.

The facility would process around 100 million ft3 of natural gas each day, creating hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen fuel would be used to generate 420 MW of low-carbon electricity, while the CO2 would be captured and injected into an active oil field, where it could replace natural gas, which is currently used to maintain pressure in the field following oil extraction. This would free up the natural gas for other more profitable uses, the firms said.

The front-end engineering and design of the plant is due to be completed by the end of 2008, at a cost of some US $45 million. The decision to proceed with construction is expected to be taken by early 2009, with startup to follow in 2012.

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