UAE’s Masdar City Aims To Lessen Its Oil Dependence

As we in the U.S. often see electric vehicles and hybrids as a way to lessen our reliance on foreign oil, oil producers like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also slowly getting on-board the fuel-saving bandwagon.

In fact – and as we noted a couple weeks ago that even Saudi Arabia is on track to begin needing to import oil within three decades – it would appear now that even oil producers see the need to reduce their oil consumption.

Another case in point would be in Masdar City, a low-carbon low-waste emerging development in Abu Dhabi that aims to be one of the world’s most sustainable cities, and has installed the Middle East’s first rapid charging station in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI).

This was done as part of Masdar City’s ongoing efforts to promote sustainable transportation and serve as a testbed for cutting edge development in clean and sustainable technology.

The pilot project aims to assess how efficiently the rapid charger technology will function in the region’s harsh climatic conditions. The CHAdeMO-certified Rapid Charger is a high efficiency DC charger provided by Efacec, a leading manufacturer of AC and DC chargers. The charger will serve as a charging station for the 12 Mitsubishi i-MiEV currently in operation at Masdar City.

These are the first mass-produced, 100 per cent electric vehicles used in the UAE.

Previously, the i-MiEVs had to be charged for six hours continuously using standard electrical outlets. With the arrival of the new rapid charger, the EV’s batteries can now be charged up to 80 per cent in approximately 30 minutes.

Naser Al Marzouqi, Head of Facilities Management, Masdar City, said: “With a reduced charging time, a greater number of EVs will be in operation throughout the day. This project embodies Masdar City’s commitment to promoting electric vehicles. As an open technology platform, Masdar City will continue to work with various clean technology providers to provide sustainable transportation systems.”

Pedro Silva, Electric Mobility Director, Efacec, said: “We are pleased to be part of such an innovative project as Masdar City. We are committed to securing mass acceptance for electric mobility as it will be the next step towards sustainable mobility on a large scale. Our chargers were designed for best efficiency and high quality standards as part of that effort.”

The rapid chargers are networked to MHI’s EV control center within Masdar City.

The EV pilot project launched in mid-January 2011 with a fleet of 12 electric vehicles served as an indispensable mode of transport inside Masdar City; addressing users’ concerns on battery life and defying skepticism about the EVs’ inability to withstand desert heat.

To date, the vehicles have transported over 35,000 passengers and Masdar City evaluates it prevented approximately 33,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.