Archive for November, 2011


Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I went back to Masdar, the new eco-city being built in Abu Dhabi, to check out how things had progressed over the past two years. On this visit I unfortunately didn’t have a personal guide like last time. (But while it was unfortunate for me, it certainly wasn’t for her! My former student, Zeina, who used to work in Masdar’s Carbon Unit, has now married, moved to Geneva, & works there for the UN’s Office of High Commission for Human Rights.)

Masdar personal rapid transit (PRT)

Things have certainly changed at Masdar as well. The taxi dropped me off at the parking garage, and I hopped into one of the personal rapid transit (PRT) vehicles there – an electric, driverless vehicle that can reach speeds of up to 40 kph. It took me over to the Masdar Institute, a cluster of buildings housing a Knowledge Center, laboratories, and other research facilities.

Masdar Institute wind tower

Particularly noticeable is a 45m wind tower, which has louvers at the top which open in the direction of the prevailing winds, diverting wind down the tower and into a courtyard at the bottom. I sat in a coffee shop in another of the Institute’s courtyards, and read about its relationship with MIT, and the upcoming Phase II – seven new buildings, including labs, residential buildings, and a large, multi-purpose recreation center, which will double the Institute’s physical size. Work has slowed down because of the financial crisis, but the city’s first phase is expected to be completed by 2015, and the second in the early 2020’s.

Abu Dhabi & Dubai

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Petroleum Institute

In November I was back in Abu Dhabi again, doing a GE/IFPEN training program for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). This course had twenty seven participants, and was held at the Petroleum Institute. I stayed once again at the Al Raha Beach Hotel, & was cordially invited to a special event for their best customers (courtesy of my association with ADNOC) — and therefore had a really great stay!

View from Burj Khalifa

I also took some time to head up to Dubai to hang out at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Of course, everyone in Dubai has been anxiously awaiting the new movie Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, which has its world premiere there in early December – and if the scenes near the end of the movie’s trailer are any indication, this will be one really amazing show. You can see them filming the Burj Khalifa scenes in another clip, and while Tom Cruise really was ‘hanging out’ at the building, I stayed safely – very, very safely – inside! [Note: I checked out the movie over the holidays in an IMAX theater, & while the last part was more than a bit melodramatic, the Burj Khalifa scenes were truly stunning!]

Tom Cruise on Burj Khalifa (photo credit: Paramount Pictures)

Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

A while back, I was invited by Professor Wei-Yin Chen to contribute a chapter about emissions trading for his comprehensive, four-volume Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation — and his arduous efforts have finally reached fruition. The work is now available from Springer, for the modest (given the effort involved!) sum of $1350 (& a bit less expensive on

Wei-Yin is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Mississippi, and does cutting edge research on combustion reactions and control, addressing both NOx and CO2 emissions. I first met him several years ago in China, when we were both delegates at the Sino-American Technology and Engineering Conference in Beijing in late 2006. (You can see him and his lovely wife Tsuei-Ju in the picture on my Nov. 2006 posting, standing in the second row, fifth and fourth from the right, respectively, over my right shoulder). Wei-Yin is currently on sabbatical at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou (absolutely one of my favorite Chinese cities!), so I certainly envy him that — & he definitely deserves a break after all that work!

Luckily, my own chapter efforts received a tremendous amount of help from my co-author, Ms. Sudha Iyer. If you have a great memory, you might remember that Sudha and I previously worked together on a UN project addressing energy system integration in Asian cities (noted in a July 2009 posting). Sudha has now graduated from Penn, and runs her own company, Cerebronics, LLC, based in Princeton, NJ. She has been spending a lot of time in Europe over the past year on project work, but never let our joint effort lag… so I’ve been particularly appreciative. It was really great to work with her once again, & I certainly look forward to other collaborations in the future!

GEF/World Bank report

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I recently finalized my report on International Experience with SO2 Emissions Trading Mechanisms for the GEF China Thermal Power Efficiency Project. As the title makes clear, it focuses on international – rather than Chinese – experience, but does include a few recommendations for the programs in Shanxi & Shandong provinces. I’ll be receiving the domestic consultants’ reports over coming months, & look forward to continuing work on this project.

China has been actively exploring emissions trading mechanisms over recent years – and recently added Shenzhen as a seventh pilot trading area for its carbon reduction program. (You might remember that I met with — and made a presentation for — the Shenzhen folks last summer.) Meanwhile, as the attached report indicates, the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange will be closing down after the first quarter of 2012. As someone who started off as an emissions broker in Chicago in 1981, it has certainly been more than a little depressing to watch the U.S. simply walk away from both the environmental ideas and ideals it pioneered years ago.