Abu Dhabi / Emirates Business
The world’s first research facility to grow both food and fuel, using desert lands irrigated by seawater, began operations on a 2-hectare site in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The facility, operated by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, is funded by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a group advancing the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by developing a clean, sustainable and alternative fuel supply.
“Research and innovation underpin the UAE’s ability to overcome environmental and social challenges, such as food and water security, while protecting our ecosystems, from our coastlines to our deserts,” said HE Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of climate change and environment. “This project will not only sustainably produce bioenergy, but also offer a pathway to grow our aquaculture industry, which supports food independence.”
Today, the UAE imports roughly 90 percent of its food – at a cost, that if left unchecked, is predicted to increase 300 percent over the next decade. But the challenge of food security is also an unprecedented opportunity to advance ideas and innovations that are both sustainable and economically viable. The Masdar Institute, along with its partners, is doing just that.
“Energy, water and food security are key, interlinked needs for the UAE. Masdar Institute is committed to supporting the country’s strategic goals, and we are proud to be operating this research facility, which not only develops sustainable bioenergy and food to help fuel and diversify the UAE economy, but also serves as a training ground for a new generation of innovators,” said Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, interim provost of Masdar Institute, a graduate research-based university in Abu Dhabi, and a founding member of the SBRC.
“This project reinforces Masdar City’s burgeoning ecosystem of innovation and strengthens its collaborative links between industry, academia and government,” said Dr. Al Yousuf. “The cutting-edge bioenergy facility also provides an example of how collaboration produces real and valuable outcomes, and will thus inspire and attract further research to Abu Dhabi.”