Many global cities are fast developing into resource-starved ecosystems, inefficient, unmanageable, and unsustainable, owing to rising population and industrialization, adversely affecting the economic growth and quality of life, health, and well-being of the communities inhabiting these cities. Abu Dhabi, one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates, launched The Masdar City, which is unique and unconventional in many ways. It embraced information and communication technologies (ICT), more visibly Internet of Things (IoT), for a better quality of life and performance of services, for an ecologically-balanced integrated urban development, thereby becoming a Smart City.

The city being in the middle of a desert posed the most formidable challenge because of the extremely hot climatic conditions for most of the year. A two-fold Energy Management approach was conceptualized for Masdar City: Reduced energy consumption by using globally proven energy-efficient techniques – natural light, insulation, window-glazing, low-energy specifications for lighting, smart building systems, and appliances. And as efficient energy generation using novel techniques – innovatively redesigned Photovoltaic panels for solar energy.

The entire water used in the city is desalinated and made suitable for drinking purposes using solar energy. As the availability of adequate water remains an inherent challenge when it comes to initiating any construction activity in desert areas, the city reuses the desalinated water for many other purposes. Wastewater treatment is done using a Membrane Bioreactor process that uses a suspended sludge system of microporous membranes that separates the solids from the liquid in the combined grey and black water mix. The treated effluent finds use in landscaping and bio-solids in irrigation and composting.

For waste management, vacuum technologies are used to eliminate the need for landfills. Waste is accordingly segregated before collection and disposal. While part of the city’s waste is recycled, in other cases, an electricity-generating process incinerates the waste, leading to the release of much less carbon dioxide than landfills. Bio-waste is composted, and the end-product is used to improve farms located in the city’s outskirts. Recyclable waste is, reused and the remaining waste is utilized in a waste-to-energy plant.

Key Activities: Renewable resources and smart energy management

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