Abu Dhabi, UAE, January 12, 2012: Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s multi-faceted renewable energy company, shared its expertise on building smart and sustainable communities during an international seminar held in Fukushima City, ahead of the anniversary of the natural calamity that hit Japan in March, 2011.
Alamira Noor Bani Hashim, a UAE national working as an Urban Planner in Masdar City, one of the integrated units of Masdar, recently participated in the International Energy Seminar on Smart Community Proposals for Reconstructing Disaster-Affected Areas, hosted by Japan’s ministries of foreign affairs, economy, trade, industry and environment in Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture, where she spoke on the key elements of a smart community. The aim of the seminar was to invite global discussions on the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas and dissemination of the proposals considered.
Numerous areas in Japan, including Fukushima Prefecture, suffered damage as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Local associations in such areas are seeking to create smart communities by encouraging the use of renewable energy.
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “On the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, we would like to extend our condolences and continuous support to the people of Japan.
“Masdar is privileged to take part in this seminar by extending its knowledge and expertise in the field of renewable energy. Such initiatives are the first step to developing stronger smart communities that will rely on a variety of sources for power, including renewable and sustainable energy.”
At the seminar, suggesting rebuilding measures for disaster hit areas in Tohoku, Ms Bani Hashim highlighted the importance of building smart communities based on passive sustainable design measures and clean technology and pointed out how Masdar, an emerging low carbon, low waste city in Abu Dhabi, can serve as a commercially viable role model for sustainable development in cities across the world.
Ms Bani Hashim said: “The key to building a smart community is integration. A smart community should display intelligent mixed land use. It should also integrate environment and geographical conditions of the location in its design. For example, at Masdar, simply shifting the orientation of the buildings to a southeast-northwest direction during construction allowed increase of wind flow at no cost, and in fact reduced the overall cooling requirements. Integrating the environment is also crucial when choosing renewable energies.
“Tohoku is going through a difficult time but this is also an opportunity to revisit plans of the new city, create a new smart community and bring back traditions that are probably forgotten. For Masdar City, we integrated traditional Arabic designs with new technology such as smart grids and smart transportation, meeting the challenges of a harsh climate through sustainable means.”
Local citizens and government officials from disaster-affected areas of Japan, experts and company representatives in fields related to smart community, and several ministries and agencies and organizations attended the seminar and discussed proposals for realizing smart communities through renewable sources of energy.
During their visit to Japan, Ms Bani Hashim and Masdar City’s Head of Master Planning, Transportation, Infrastructure and Design Sultan Al Ali also met Izumi Akiyama, Chief of Policy Coordination in the Bureau of Urban Development from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and discussed several strategies to help Tokyo evolve into an environmentally-advanced city, including reinforcing wide-area transport infrastructures, forming business hubs and creating a public green space network.
Casualties rose to more than 15,000 when a severe earthquake hit the Tohoku - Pacific Ocean district in March last year. Thousands still remain listed as missing a year since the disaster devastated the east coast of Japan's main island. As several countries, including Japan, brace themselves for future natural calamities, there is a growing demand for rebuilding cities based on renewable resources.
Japan announced its plans to develop an advanced national energy strategy last year. As part of the approach, renewable energy will play a major role in the country’s development of a diverse energy mix. Along with the launch of a solar and wind feed-in tariff program, Japan aims to increase its share of renewable energy to 20 percent of total electricity generated by 2020. Japan has also committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
Japan expects that its energy policy will lower the cost of solar power generation to a third of its current level by 2020 and to a sixth by 2030. In addition, Japan has announced plans to install solar panels on more than 10 million roof tops by 2030.
Masdar and Japan have shared a long-term mutually beneficial relationship, evident from the number of partnerships between Japanese companies and the Abu Dhabi based firm. During the World Future Energy Summit in January this year, Masdar Capital, one of the integrated units of Masdar, signed an MoU with the Development Bank of Japan. Recently, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba also visited Masdar to discuss more avenues of collaboration between Japanese firms and Masdar.