Abu Dhabi: The proposed $22 billion Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city, will rely mainly on outside funding and use less than one-third of the Abu Dhabi Government's $15-billion dedicated fund to the initiative.

Masdar City is an ambitious alternative energy project to develop environmentally-friendly future sources of energy.

"We are looking at an array of financing vehicles for the Masdar City," Masdar's chief executive Dr Sultan Al Jaber told a news conference late on Saturday, shortly after the cornerstone for the zero-carbon city was laid by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

"Large financial institutions and banks have approached us to build the Silicon Valley of renewables in Abu Dhabi," Al Jaber said. He, however, declined to name the banks and the financial institutions, saying any announcement regarding the funding of the Masdar City will be made at a later date.

Al Jaber said Masdar City will promote leadership in eight sectors, namely: Advanced energy, sustainable transportation, water and waste management, energy efficiency, green construction and materials, biodiversity, climate change and sustainability finance.

"Each of these sectors will have innovation hubs, creating new technologies and solutions, as well as a commercialisation unit for the rapid deployment of these solutions. Residential and commercial spaces will be blended together with supporting infrastructure, creating a truly unique, vibrant and productive community," Al Jaber said.

Maximum benefits

Masdar will maximise the benefits of sustainable technologies, such as photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power. By implementing these technologies, Masdar City will save the equivalent of more than $2 billion in oil over the next 25 years, based on today's energy prices. The city will also create more than 70,000 jobs and will add more than two per cent to Abu Dhabi's annual GDP.

A senior Masdar executive told Gulf News that the bulk of the $15 billion Abu Dhabi fund for Masdar initiative will go towards manufacturing, project development, building solar and thermal plants, carbon capturing storages and hydrogen power plants.

The 6.5-square kilometre Masdar City, located close to the Abu Dhabi international airport, upon completion in 2016, will house 1,500 businesses and 50,000 residents.

The first step in the city's seven-phase plan is the development of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Mist), the world's first graduate school dedicated to renewable energy. Developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the school is scheduled to open in 2009.