Preparing on a talk on the Future of Energy I run into some interesting information on a brand new city, Madsar, being developed in the AUE under the design of Lord Norman Foster.
Madsar rendering with solar panel in the left lower corner
The project is funded with 22 billion US$ and aims at creating a self sustainable town, getting all the energy it needs from renewable sources, with zero carbon footprint. To that effect the design has integrated advanced architectural solutions for dwellings to decrease the amount of required energy (which does not mean using very little energy!) along with the local harvesting of energy from the sun, the wind and geothermal.
The city consists of three layers, one for the infrastructures (piping and cabling), one for transportation (only electric computer controlled cars are available, all fossil fuel powered cars have to stay in parking lots outside Madsar) and one, the topmost layer, for the actual living. Although this layer is above ground the sky is hidden by a cover protecting the city from the solar heat to decrease air conditioning and related power consumption. The sky is simulated through smart materials.
From an engineering and architectural point of view it is a “WOW”! From a real economic sustainability point of view I, and several other people, have some doubts.
With Madsar we are basically creating an artificial wonder in a place where no such thing could exist. The energy (and cost involved) is just flabbergasting. Imagine the cost of sweetening the water to support gardens and golf courts and you start to get an ide.
There is also the social issue of having created something, really in the desert, that does not fit with ts surrounding, creating a ghetto inside and outside.
Even as an enthusiast of technology and science I am wondering if this is the way to go. True, by doing that we are creating an amazing lab to learn and invent new approaches to energy production and utilization. In this respect I fell 100% supportive of the initiative.