Head of Abu Dhabi clean-energy institute resigns

Tue, 07/13/2010 - 4:13am
ADAM SCHRECK - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of a renewable energy institute in Abu Dhabi is leaving after only a year in charge as the oil-rich emirate retools ambitious plans for a carbon-neutral city.

Masdar, the government-run company behind both projects, confirmed in a statement Tuesday that John Perkins decided to leave as the Masdar Institute's provost and return to Britain in the fall "for personal reasons."

Perkins was hired in June 2009 to direct curriculum and research at the graduate-level research and teaching institute, which has ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was previously a vice president and dean at the University of Manchester in England.

Perkins could not immediately be reached for comment.

His departure comes weeks after another senior official, Tariq Ali, stepped down from his post as vice president of research and industry relations at the institute little more than a year into the job. Masdar said Ali continues to work for the institute's parent company as a consultant.

The Masdar Institute is part of a $22 billion effort by Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, to build a carbon-neutral, waste-free community outside the capital known as Masdar City. Original plans called for a solar-powered, car-free city that would host 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters by 2016.

The project's future has been uncertain since it launched a strategic review earlier this year.

State-owned newspaper The National has reported that the project will now include fewer buildings than originally planned, and that Masdar has shed jobs and is looking to cut costs as it shifts project targets.

The company has declined requests to discuss the review in detail, but insists that its overall commitment to the project remains in place. Masdar CEO Sultan al-Jaber told reporters late last month that the project has not been scaled back. Results of the review are due to be released soon.

Masdar is at the heart of efforts by Abu Dhabi, one of the world's biggest exporters of oil, to position itself as a world leader in renewable energy. The emirate is investing heavily in solar and nuclear power, and was picked last year as the home of the International Renewable Energy Agency.




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