Just outside of the opulent city of Dubai lies a community that almost defies everything the consumerist former stands for. The city of Masdar is entirely unique; a totally green centre of population that will seemingly attract every eco-friendly energy researcher and companies with a conscience to within its walls.
Brian Merchant of TreeHugger.com believes it’s an acceptable metaphor for clean energy: “full of potential, only a fraction realised, continually delayed, undeniably exciting – – and nobody’s quite sure how seriously anyone else is taking it.”
It’s true that individuals remain perplexed as to how to approach the subject of “green living”, “eco-friendly” and “carbon free”. It is a lifestyle that demands constant work, attention and money, things that the average person doesn’t happily want to spend on a cause that will not instantly benefit them.
This “carbon-neutral oasis” as Merchant describes it is a good example. While the intention behind it may be beneficial to the world’s understanding of clean energy the whole idea still seem pretty elitist. Only people with money can buy electric vehicles (EVs) and install charging stations, only people with money can buy solar panels to light up their houses and only people with money could possible develop the idea and construction of an entirely carbon neutral city.
The city itself is phenomenal; it is a high-tech society bent on propelling Abu Dhabi as a forerunner in the race to become the “pre-eminent source of renewable energy knowledge, development, implementation,” and to become the “world’s benchmark for sustainable development”. It’s also pulling out all the stops. Masdar Power focuses its attention on Concentrating Solar Power (CSP), wind power and photovoltaic solar energy (I had never heard of such a thing).
Masdar looks like a city out of a sci-fi film; the extensive structures, the board upon board of solar panels, the interesting architectural design. And it’s not a place for your average person (or so it seems); while the Masdar website states that it is pedestrian-friendly, there appears to be a strong indication that the city is actually for individuals and corporations that are strongly involved in the further development or implementation of clean-technology. Currently it is home to less than two hundred people.
I love the idea of a community living and working towards a clean energy, low impact lifestyle, but that’s one of the pitfalls of Masdar. The real challenge is to integrate clean living into the world’s already existing lifestyles. It doesn’t really help to create an exclusive society removed from the rest of the world in an attempt to solve the world’s energy issues.