Nov 30, 2015 | By Kira

In the words of President Obama himself, “global warming is not just the greatest environmental challenge facing our planet — it is one of our greatest challenges of any kind.” Global warming threatens our health, our economy, our natural resources and the very future of mankind, yet just what exactly are we doing about it? No matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we’re doing our part by buying ‘biodegradable’ water bottles and recycling a few papers here and there, the answer is we’re not doing nearly enough. Perhaps then, it’s time to learn from a somewhat unlikely source: the city of Dubai, which has just revealed ambitious plans not only to become a cleaner city, but to become the most sustainable city in the world by 2050.

I say unlikely because Dubai, and the UAE in general, is well known as a major culprit when it comes to energy consumption: in 2009, the UAE was ranked as the 6th top carbon dioxide emitter per capita in the world. Yet at the same time, the city of Dubai has been making significant steps towards becoming a more sustainable and forward-thinking world capital, with 3D printing technology playing a major role. Just recently, the city unveiled its fourth 3D printed Smart Palm, solar-powered WiFi hubs that are a part of the city’s Smart Dubai initiative. Dubai also plans to build the first 3D printed office building, and will use 3D printing to construct the Museum of the Future. On the civil defense front, Dubai recently ordered 20 3D printed jetpacks for firefighters to help save lives in high-rise fire incidents.

The five-step Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 plan, announced Friday by the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai himself, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, includes switching from oil to clean energy sources; increasing funding and legislation for clean energy companies; and a heavy reliance on 3D printing and other smart technologies for manufacturing, construction and energy production.

Overall, the emirate has promised that it will obtain 7 per cent of its energy via clean sources by 2020, eventually bringing that number up to 25 per cent in 2030, and 75 per cent in 2050. Clean energy sources include solar, clean coal, nuclear, and natural gas.

Quite appropriately, the announcement was given at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, an ambitious landmark that is set to become the largest solar park in the world, producing thousands of megawatts of clean energy for the entire region. Phase I began in October 2013 and was completed a mere 30 weeks later. Phase II is now underway, and is expected to produce enough electricity to power 30,000 homes and displace 469,650t of carbon emissions a year upon its completion.

Of great interest to us is the fact that this ambitious and world-leading Solar Park will include an innovation center that will be built in large part using 3D printing technology. Once completed, the DEWA Solar Innovation Center will house solar technology research, as well as extensive research and development in 3D printing, smart grids, and other clean energy technologies. Through the Dubai Green Zone and Innovation Center, His Highness has called on international companies and R&D centers to make Dubai a base for testing and improving the next generation of clean energy technologies, to one day be applied across the world.

In addition to the construction of the Solar Park and Innovation Center (for which Dhs50 billion ($13.6 billion USD) has already been invested), the Clean Energy Strategy 2050 includes four more key steps:

  • The installation of solar panels onto the roofs of all Dubai buildings by 2030
  • A government investment of Dhs100 billion for the Dubai Green Fund to provide low-interest loans for those working to innovate and improve the clean energy sector in Dubai and abroad.
  • The creation of a tax-free business zone called Dubai Green Zone, designed specifically to attract and help grow clean energy companies from around the world.
  • The development of Desert Rose, a sustainable city to be built in Dubai that will house up to 160,000 people and be linked to the Dubai Metro via an electronic train track.

Digital representation of Rose City

“Every investment in the development of clean energy sources is at the same time an investment to protect the environment for future generations. It is an effort to build our sustainable economic sectors which do not depend on non-renewable energy resources and are unaffected by volatile energy prices,” said His Highness. “Through this strategy, which is based on innovation, research and development, we aim to explore the future of the energy sector to unveil initiatives that will make use of the scientific and technological developments in this sector and take the lead in their development and application.”

Despite having the second-largest oil reserves in the world and a not-so-stellar reputation for carbon dioxide emissions, Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy 2050 combines infrastructure, legislation, and funding tactics, as well as an unprecedented commitment to truly making a difference in the world. Hopefully this model, ambitious as it is, can inspire other countries to take a similar lead in applying new technologies such as 3D printing and clean energy solutions to ultimately overcome the global warming crisis.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Kira wrote at 12/1/2015 2:02:03 PM:

Thanks for catching that typo, Casey. It has indeed been corrected to 2030.

Casey Czarnomski wrote at 12/1/2015 1:57:29 AM:

Solar panels on every roof top by 2013? What is the correction for this error?

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