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Plans for Abu Dhabi’s first net-zero energy commercial HQ building attract crowds at UAE Climate Tech

12 May 2023

5 min

First-of-its kind forum paves the way for collective decarbonizing and forward action for net-zero

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 12 May 2023: Masdar City is forging a path to net-zero by focusing on clean-tech innovation, R&D, and sustainable design that maximizes natural resources such as solar, and they showcased the way forward at the UAE Climate Tech Forum.

Held from May 10 to May 11 at the Abu Dhabi Energy Center, the UAE Climate Tech forum gathered clean and climate tech and energy organizations, pioneers, and thought leaders to exchange ideas on “transforming, decarbonizing and futureproofing for net-zero.”

Masdar City showcased an impressive e-installation of an upcoming project, Masdar City Square, which will feature Abu Dhabi’s first net-zero energy commercial HQ building, set to open in early 2025. The development broke ground last year, and construction is underway, with engineering due to be completed this summer. Sustainable features include window design that minimizes direct sun while maximizing natural light, PV panels, and orientation that takes advantage of cooling winds.

During a panel discussion titled UAE ECO System, Masdar City was hailed as an example of a hub where public and private sectors join forces to leverage clean and climate-tech innovations.

Representatives from the Scotland-based TechX Clean Energy Accelerator, HUB71, and The Catalyst, Masdar City’s venture arm, discussed the crucial role of startups and their fresh creativity in achieving net-zero.

Suleiman Amin, the managing director of The Catalyst, said collaboration is the key to the UAE net-zero strategy.

"We can feed off the Masdar City example; there is a great ecosystem there that is a mix of public and private sectors working together,” he said. “I walk out the door, and 20 meters away, I can potentially find an ideal customer and strategic partner for my client."

One of the start-ups from The Catalyst, and a participant in Masdar City’s ecosystem, Circa Biotech, also participated in the forum by showcasing their work in using black soldier flies to transform food waste into high-quality animal feed and other products.

Mark Anderson, the director of TechX, praised Masdar City for their proactive approach to providing startups with the necessary access and means to carry their innovative solutions forward.

"UAE Net Zero 2050 requires massive leaps in clean energy innovation, to come ideally from technologies that are currently not commercially viable—mainly startups," Anderson said. “If there is one thing we can learn in Scotland from here, that would be this fantastic ‘let us get it done’ attitude.”

Suleiman Amin also participated in a panel on UAE ecosystems realizing global potential in the lead-up to COP28. He shared the unique role The Catalyst is playing in the clean and climate-tech startup ecosystem by "de-risking" investments and providing a combination of "patient and smart" capital, which refers to the longer development timeline that these startups need to reach scalability.

“By taking on the early-stage risk in these startups, The Catalyst aims to eliminate concerns for other venture capitalists and investors for when the startup is ready to raise the next round of funding,” he said.

Hosted by the Ministry of Industry & Advanced Technology (MoIAT), UAE Climate Tech was held for the first time to advance the UAE’s net-zero efforts and further diversify the economy.

The two-day event facilitated knowledge sharing and collaboration between clean-tech entrepreneurs, innovators, and policymakers.

Gathering a high caliber of climate tech officials and innovators is essential to facilitating a holistic, corrective approach to reducing carbon emissions, considering, as the forum heard during the opening ceremony, that carbon emissions must reduce by more than 40 percent by 2030.

UAE Climate Tech also shed light on the significant potential in the clean-tech market, including possible ways to build a unified ecosystem that can be leveraged to reduce carbon emissions.

Speakers highlighted the importance of uniting relevant sectors under one umbrella to coordinate their efforts. As renewable energy challenges persist, especially cost-wise, the government, financial, and technology sectors must work together.

“Masdar City has already taken steps to coordinate sustainability efforts through our clean-tech ecosystem,” said Ahmed Baghoum, Masdar City’s CEO, who participated in the forum. “For us, every year is the Year of Sustainability. We have been focused on clean tech, R&D, business, innovation, collaboration with public and private partners, and sustainable urban design and development since we first broke ground in 2008. Masdar City is now home to one of the largest clusters of LEED Platinum buildings in the world. Ten years ago, our buildings were at least 40 percent more water- and energy-efficient than traditional buildings. Today, we have no fewer than three net-zero energy projects underway, including Masdar City Square, which we showcased at UAE Climate Tech. We see this forum as an ideal kick-start to other helping other entities unite to advance climate solutions, and a vital initiative in the lead-up to COP28. We’re looking forward to leading the way to making net-zero the norm rather than the exception.”

UAE Climate Tech was held in partnership with ADNOC and Masdar, Masdar City’s sister company, as part of cooperative efforts in the lead-up to COP28.

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