Qatar Seeks to Solar Power the 2022 World Cup

qatar-2022-stadium-designQatar Wants World Cup Action, but the Environmental Price May be Too High.

This relatively obscure Middle Eastern country, slightly smaller than Connecticut, is putting itself on the map. Oil and gas revenue, according to the CIA factbook, comprises 50% of the nation’s GDP, but Qatar is diversifying its portfolio.  As part of its National Vision for 2030 to enhance human, social, economic, and environmental development, the country has instituted a series of high-profile building projects including Urjuan and Energy City.  The most recent and potentially most ambitious project to date is the bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

CNN reporter Mark Tutton draws attention to an important detail about Qatar’s bid:  the world cup competition takes place in the peak of summer.  And in the peak of summer, Qatar is hot, 40°C hot, not to mention humid.  How is it that Qatar bids so confidently, despite these prohibitively harsh conditions?

qatar-world-cup-stadiumSolar-Powered Cooling

Qatar has proposed to build 9 new solar powered open-air stadiums designed by German Architects Albert Speer & Partner GmbH (AS&P), and renovate 3 existing stadiums.  Electricity to cool these stadiums will be generated with photovoltaic panels (PV) and solar thermal collectors installed on the stadiums’ roofs and sides.  Cool air will be pumped at spectators’ ankles, backs, and necks, and if permissible, the retractable roof can provide additional shade.  Meanwhile, the air-conditioning system will be carbon neutral, says Tutton, because excess energy from the PVs will be exported to Qatar’s national grid.

FIFA will decide in December whether Qatar can supply adequate football facilities, infrastructure, and security for the 2022 World Cup fans and teams.  And if they do win the bid, they will be the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup.

The Environmental Cost of World Cup Fame

In the meantime, it is necessary to evaluate the context of Qatar’s bid.  The country suffers from desertification and relies heavily on desalination to provide water.  As such, inviting a swarm of spectators seems unreasonable. Qatar also has the second highest per capita GDP in the world. Might world cup revenue be better allocated to boost a flailing economy?  Finally, with a population scarcely breaching one million, and their team ranked 95 by FIFA, what use will Qatar have for 12 stadiums once the World Cup is complete?  Is such an exorbitant expenditure of natural resources justified?

:: via CNN

More green news from Qatar:
Vodaphone Launches Green Phone Projects in Qatar
Qatar’s Green Building Community Rallies Leaders
Qatar’s New LEED Center a Mini Masdar

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