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Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Cuts Jobs, Keeps Renewable Energy Goals

By Anthony DiPaola
November 22, 2011 11:06 AM EST

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government- owned renewable energy company, cut 9 percent of its workforce after an annual business review.

The venture, a unit of government-run Mubadala Development Co., will maintain its “long-term strategic vision” and “core objectives,” a Masdar official, who declined to be identified in line with company policy, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. The official declined to specify the size of the workforce or the number of jobs cut.

Abu Dhabi, the capital and largest sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates, wants to generate at least 7 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It holds almost all of the country’s oil reserves and is expanding use of solar and wind power in an effort to become a regional hub for renewable energy. Masdar is a prominent part of the strategy.

The venture includes Masdar City, a project to develop a residential and business district that would generate no carbon emissions. Masdar City contains student residences and a joint venture research university with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After conducting an earlier strategic review, Masdar said last year it would build the city in stages and delayed the first phase by two years to 2015. The company stopped work this year on a planned headquarters building that would have been the world’s first to produce more energy than it consumes and said it will examine a different design.

Hydrogen Power

It halted a project with BP Plc for building a $2 billion hydrogen power plant. BP said in January the project was delayed for at least three years to await the sheikdom’s decision on whether to use carbon dioxide produced by the plant to help boost oil output.

Masdar will start operating its 100-megawatt Shams 1 concentrated solar thermal unit by the third quarter of 2012 and plans to build a 100-megawatt photovoltaic facility called Noor 1. The company also aims to build a 30-megawatt wind turbine plant.

Masdar’s investment funds have about $450 million under management for spending on clean energy projects. The company is a partner in an offshore wind power development in the Thames River estuary, known as the London Array.

To contact the reporters on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Abu Dhabi at adipaola@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss on sev@bloomberg.net.

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