Masdar City: The Sustainable City and Solar Panels in the Middle East

Masdar City is an initiative to decrease Abu Dhabi’s dependence on fossil fuel-based revenues. It is doing so by establishing renewable energy and low-carbon urban developments. Based on sustainable solutions, it is paving the way for future eco-cities.

Our planet has warmed to record-high temperatures in human history due to the increasing CO2 levels. The reason for global warming is the large-scale production and consumption of fossil fuels — oil, natural gas, and coal.

Fortunately, oil and gas-producing countries like UAE have been trying to find alternative energy sources.

The country is one of the prominent investors in renewable energy globally, with Masdar being the pioneer in nurturing green development.


Masdar City is an Example of Sustainable Urban Development

Masdar city sustainability shows how a city can put up higher populations more effectively. It is among the global sustainable urban communities.

Masdar is a future energy company that develops commercially possible renewable energy real estate projects in the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa).

Mubadala investment company of Abu Dhabi’s government owns Masdar, which is developing the most sustainable city in the world.

The buildings in the city consume 40 percent less electricity and water than the other buildings in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, each building is liable to earn at least a 3- Pearl rating, as per the Estidama Pearl Building Rating System.

This rating is equal to the Gold Green Building Certification by LEED (an international rating system). LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Masdar City acts as a bridge linking research & development with education and business with investment. It’s an ideal place for companies in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere in the world wishing to experiment with their renewable energy and technology solutions.

The proof of Masdar City’s sustainability is 30 percent lower greenhouse gases in its built environment. Clever and passive design is used to build the city, which decreases its water and power consumption by 40 percent.

The city spreads over 600 hectares and houses offices of over 590 companies and over 1300 residents. More than 4000 individuals work here.


Passive Design

Masdar city’s sustainability owes to its passive design. Passive design refers to a building design that helps maintain a suitable temperature according to the local climate.

The passive design of buildings in Masdar City minimizes the need for additional cooling or heating, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In passive design, aspects of construction like thermal mass, direction, insulation, and varnishing act together to use natural cooling and heating sources like solar energy and wind power. They also try to minimize undesirable energy loss and gain.


Master Plan

Masdar’s group of companies envisioned a commercially viable city that emits the lowest possible amount of carbon yet delivers a comfortable lifestyle for its inhabitants.

Masdar City is the practical form of that vision. It is a sustainable community that has many uses, including job creation land, parks, plazas, residential areas, and neighborhood amenities.


Concentrated Solar Power

Masdar creates and invests in various CSP or concentrated solar power systems. This technology uses mirrors to produce solar energy by concentrating a large part of sunlight onto a receiver.

The process of focussed sunlight converting to solar thermal energy produces electricity. This electricity runs a heat engine linked to an electrical power generator.

Concentrated solar power systems are known to be effective solar power technology used to produce electricity on a large scale.

When TES (thermal energy storage) is integrated with CSP, the concentrated solar power system can produce non-stop electricity (baseload) for as long as 24 hours. This capability makes the CSP system suitable to integrate with the power grid.


Different Kinds of Concentrated Solar Power Systems

The Shams 1 power plant produces 100 Mega Watt of electricity. It utilizes a parabolic trough system that focuses light onto oil-filled pipes.

The system heats the oil, and the heat generates steam which runs a standard steam turbine.

Masdar’s Gemasolar plant in Spain produces 20 MW of electricity. It uses a range of heliostats, reflectors that reflect sun rays onto the main receiver, which deposits heat as molten salt.

This, as a result, produces steam which runs a steam turbine. Gemasolar was the global pioneer solar plant for utility-scale to integrate of molten salt storage technology with a basic tower receiver system. This integration results in non-stop 24-hours electricity production.


Masdar City’s Solar panels are Sand-resistant

Abu Dhabi is a sun-drenched area, but it still has little solar power. The reason is the sand that can harm solar panels.

You might know that Abu Dhabi’s government is the owner of Masdar’s group of companies. Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is part of the Masdar group and is an MIT-affiliated graduate school in Abu Dhabi.

It took this challenge and started a joint research project with Siemens. Together, they developed a sand-resistant solution for Masdar City solar panels.

They developed coatings to help solar panels better resist sand, dust, and other soil particles abundant in desert environments like the UAE. Moreover, they have produced more efficient soiling models.

These soiling models can be cleaned with less water than regular solar panels, which is a benefit in water-scarce regions.

Like Masdar City’s solar panels, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has also found solutions for establishing photovoltaic devices in dry areas like the Middle East.


Bottom Line

Masdar City can be called a real-world laboratory of urban sustainability. It is an investment zone and a free zone. It allows foreign ownership of businesses and land and invites all kinds and sizes of green tech organizations to experiment, commercialize and utilize clean energy solutions.