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UAE: Masdar development ploughs on

Masdar City, an eco-town on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, is only slowly rising from the desert and remains a long way from resembling the state-of-the-art project touted in glossy presentations, but other elements of the emirate's effort are gradually being fleshed out. Carbon emissions from a new steel plant at Mussafah are expected to be captured from 2012, marking the first step towards wider adoption of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in the Emirate.

Initially some 0.8m tonnes a year (t/y) of carbon dioxide from the steel mill will be captured. By 2014-15, the plan is to capture 5m t/y from that steel plant, plus a gas-fired power plant and aluminium plant, both at Taweelah. The captured gas is to be sold to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. It will be transported through new pipelines for injection into oilfields to boost reservoir pressure and increase crude production. A planned hydrogen plant, to be built with BP, may also become part of the CCS scheme

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Future Energy (Masdar) and German energy firm E.On have set up a joint venture aimed at developing emissions-reducing projects in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, with a focus on the power, oil and gas sectors. Unveiled in January, E.On Masdar Integrated Carbon (EMIC) will aim to make income through the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows projects in developing countries to sell their emissions savings to companies in the industrialised world in return for carbon credits tradable on markets such as the EU's Emission Trading System. Prime candidates for EMIC involvement would include fuel switching to less polluting feedstocks, such as natural gas, and projects aimed at reducing gas flaring and pipeline leakage.

The two companies are already working together on one of Masdar's more tangible investments to date – the world's largest offshore wind farm, the 1 gigawatt London Array, in the Thames estuary, close to the UK capital (PE 7/09/p24). Denmark's Dong Energy is the third partner in the project.

After a prolonged and shaky gestation – the path of which Masdar's last-minute investment did much to smooth – a slew of contracts for work on the wind farm have been signed in the past year. The most recent, in February, were awarded to MPI and A2SEA, which won contracts to supply marine crew and vessels for the installation of foundations and turbines for the first 630 megawatt (MW) phase. These vessels are expected to be operational in early 2011. The largest contract to date, worth around €1bn ($1.4bn), was awarded to Siemens Wind Power last year, which will supply 175 3.6 MW turbines for the first phase.

Richard Rigg, London Array's project director said the February contracts were the final large construction contracts to be signed for the project, which, he added, had now moved from the development phase into full construction.

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