ABU DHABI // The German engineering and automation conglomerate Siemens will become the largest tenant of Masdar City when its first stage is completed in 2015.
The company said yesterday it will move its Middle East headquarters to the carbon-neutral city, eventually occupying up to 25,000 square metres. It is the first to sign up since the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, better known as Masdar, unveiled a revamped development plan this month.
Siemens plans to occupy 12,000 square metres of space in the first phase of the development, three times the area to be leased by its US competitor General Electric, which agreed to become an anchor tenant last January. It plans to start occupying the space in early 2013.
The facilities will include a centre of excellence for smart buildings, and a leadership development and conference centre. The centre of excellence will begin research and development this year.
Sultan al Jaber, the Masdar chief executive, said: "Partnering with technology leaders such as Siemens to create a clean-tech and R&D hub is what Masdar is about."
Siemens' tenancy will be crucial for Masdar City's commercial viability. Brian Fan, the head of the Masdar City research and technology road map, said other commitments from international companies were on the way. Masdar also hopes to reap long-term profits from an R&D partnership with Siemens.
The two companies signed an agreement in London yesterday to collaborate on "smart" power grids, green buildings and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Innovations would be tested in Masdar City. The most successful could be marketed across the GCC and in other parts of the world with hot, dry climates.
Siemens will provide integrated building automation technologies to the first phase of Masdar City. It will also collaborate with Masdar to develop smart-grid applications to improve energy efficiency.
For CCS research, Siemens will team up with Masdar and the Masdar Institute. Many environmentalists consider capturing carbon dioxide emissions for permanent underground storage essential for mitigating climate change, but so far it has proved prohibitively expensive.
Masdar's new development plan is decidedly more conservative than the original one, allowing more time for completion of the project, reducing its overall cost by up to 15 per cent, and reflecting the financial constraints that emerged from the global economic downturn.
* With additional reporting by Asa Fitch