“Scorching desert rays to power air conditioning systems” sounds like an oxymoron. But that’s exactly what’s going to happen in five soccerstadiums in Qatar in 2022, when the country will become the first Middle East country to ever host the World Cup.
Qatar’s winning bid was announced today at a FIFA press conference in Zurich, Switzerland, and is being described by many soccer aficionadosas a “stunning announcement.” What’s more stunning to us is that thePersian Gulf country, which is currently the world’s biggest producer of liquified natural gas, will use solar technology at all five stadiumsslated to host World Cup games — and also at fan zones and trainingfacilities throughout the country.
During summers in Qatar, temperatures can climb above 120 degreesFahrenheit. In order to offset this heat and make playing conditions,well, playable, Qatar will install solar energy systems to capture itsabundance of hot desert sun and use it to power cooling systems thatwill bring and keep stadium temperatures under 80 degrees Fahrenheitduring matches.
All World Cup stadiums will also be energy neutral. As you know,solar panels produce electricity whenever there is sunlight, so therewill be energy to be had even when games aren’t being played. Thatenergy will be exported back onto the main power grid. When games arebeing played, the grid will be tapped to fire energy back into thestadiums to cool the players and fans in time for kickoff. Qatar hopesto be a prototype for other hot nations looking to host a World Cup, orother large outdoor event, and will make its cooling technologyavailable to those looking to follow suit.
The smallest Arab nation had some big supporters during its world cup bid, including former France midfielder, Algerian-born Zinedine Zidane,who spoke about Qatar’s selection shortly after it was announced:
“…it’s a victory for the Arab world. Qatar has receivedsupport from the Arab world as a whole and I think that’s been animportant factor. Now they’ve got a little bit of time to get down towork and do what they have to do, which is to harness sport andfootball to achieve some big things. They’ve got ten years to put a team together and stage a wonderful World Cup.”
Qatar already has two of the five stadiums built and ready foraction. All they need are the solar energy installations. Three otherWorld Cup stadiums will have to be built before the 2022 tournament:Al-Wakrah Stadium, Al-Khor Stadium and Al-Shamal Stadium, which are allexpected to seat over 45,000 soccer fans. Qatar has plenty of other work to do before hosting the World Cup in 12 years, including revamping its public transportation system. Time to get to work.
Image: A computerized image of Al-Shamal Stadium, one of three stadiums that Qatar will build before hosting the 2022 World Cup.