Abu Dhabi eco-city Masdar may not be fully powered by renewable energy as budget constraints hit the scope of the project

Following a review, it has been announced that 10-15% of the$22bn (£13.6bn) budget will be cut, the completion date has been extended from 2016 to 2020-25, and not all of its energy will come from on-site renewable sources.

But now a spokesperson for the project says that even off-site energy might not be 100% renewable if it proves too expensive. “The aim is to power as much as possible, ideally 100% [from renewable sources],” he said. “If it is exceedingly expensive [to supply renewable energy], then that 100% aim might be looked at again. Part of being sustainable is being commercially sustainable.”

This raises the prospect that Masdar would draw power from the UAE grid, which is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas.

The spokesperson said it was hard to predict whether renewable power would become too expensive to invest in. “It depends on government regulation,” he said.

He added it would be affected by whether the Abu Dhabi government brings in a subsidy for solar power.