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Sat 20 Apr 2013 10:33 AM

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Qatar races to develop solar stadium cooling

New technology will help keep stadia cool during 2022 World Cup, says organising exec

Qatar races to develop solar stadium cooling
An elevated view is displayed of the 45,330 capacity Al Khor stadium located in the north east of Qatar, a key part of Qatars 2022 FIFA World Cup bid

Qatar is racing to develop efficient solar-powered cooling technology to counter the searing heat of the Middle Eastern summer in its stadiums during the 2022 soccer World Cup, a senior organising committee official told Reuters.

Nasser Al-Khater, the organising committee's communications and marketing director, also said the tiny gulf state would construct its stadiums with modular technology so it could downscale them after the tournament, and donate seating to countries with little sports infrastructure.

Al-Khater said the wealthy emirate already boasted the world's first cooled stadium, albeit with traditional energy sources. Temperatures in Qatar can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

"We showed (world governing body) FIFA how the cooling technology works, it was warm outside but in stadium was cold they wanted their jackets," Al-Khater said during a trip to Berlin for a Qatari business and investment conference.

"So cooling a stadium is not the issue."

The issue is that Qatar has promised to hold a carbon-neutral World Cup and so is researching solar-powered cooling technology. It will either create a central solar power farm or have individual ones installed in each of the 12 stadiums it is building, said Al-Khater.

"When you don't use it for the stadiums you feed it into the grid," he said.

The emirate developed a small, solar-powered prototype stadium seating 500 during the bid process but wants to develop more efficient technologies ahead of 2022.

"With solar, the big challenge is how do you deal with solar technology in the desert in terms of withstanding the elements and getting it clean so it is efficient," Al-Khater said.

He said he had met several German companies during his trip to Berlin that had interesting proposals. Germany has been a pioneer in solar technology.

Many leading voices in football such as UEFA president Michel Platini have called for the World Cup to be held in December or January, when the average temperature is 17 degrees, rather than in the middle of the year.

Historically, the World Cup has always been held in June and July and any change could lead to a major scheduling headache with the major European leagues normally playing through the winter. Qatar's right to stage the 2022 World Cup if the event is moved to the winter months would also be open to a legal challenge.

Al-Khater said Qatar would go ahead researching and installing the cooling technology either way as the stadiums would be used in the summer months even after the World Cup.

"Whether it is a winter or summer World Cup we will be ready," he said.

Al-Khater said Qatar, a tiny country home to just 1.7 million inhabitants, was using modular seating for the upper tiers of its new stadiums in order to be able to downsize after the World Cup. "The idea is we will contribute the seats to countries that need to develop their sporting infrastructure."

He said it was too early to discuss whether or not alcohol, which is legal in Qatar albeit under restrictions, would be allowed in the stadiums.

"One thing we want people to know is alcohol is not part of our culture," he said. "And every World Cup you go to, people experience the local culture, its differences and similarities."

Though led by a ruling family viewed as highly progressive by Gulf standards, the fact remains that most Qataris are very conservative. Most practice Wahhabism, the austere form of Islam also practiced in Saudi Arabia.

"We will come up with a solution that will keep everyone happy, so whether it means certain zones where alcohol is permitted, or another type of arrangement," he said. "Around the world people are steering away from alcohol in the stadium."

Al-Khater said he hoped hosting the World Cup would further bolster Qatar's status as a sports hub in the region.

"Qatar is also a second home to many teams that find they cant host matches, for example it is home turf for Iraq for their qualifying matches," he said.

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procan 7 years ago

Please correct me but are not the temperatures in the plus 50c in the summer? The race for technology to cool Qatar stadiums is not in Qatar . Wesern technology is are doing the work ,Qatar is simply paying the Bill.

Qatari 7 years ago

@procan, according to weather.com the average high temprature in mid summer is 41c, 50c happens less than 10 days a year. Haters will keep saying that its 50c in summer to try and take the event back to the western countries.

About the technology, Qatar Solar Technology is doing the work, it is a joint venture between german and Qatari partners. The company is a joint venture between Qatar Foundation (70%), SolarWorld AG (29%) and the Qatar Development Bank (1%). That makes it a Qatari majority owned company.

Qatari 7 years ago

@Telcoguy, You made no actual point about the weather. Weather.com is there if you don't like that statistics you can contact them and talk about your experience as a kid all you want.

About your second point, you're right they are held outside WE/US. What I meant to say by Western is a country which is fully open to western companies and easier for the western companies to get contracts. South Africa, Latin America, Japan, S.Korea are all included. Let's face it this is the main reason why all westerns are mad about the WC2022 being in Qatar, it is a big loss for their companies and a big win for the Qataris.

Soccer on the sun 7 years ago

Cooling the stadiums is a much smaller issue to deal with the heat I feel than how to keep the tens of thousands of fans and support staff cool when not in the air conditioned stadium!
All these people will be risking heat and sunstroke by the thousands when waiting outside for transportation, waiting outside to get in the stadium, working as support for the event, etc.
I live in Qatar for 9 years and in June it is unbearably hot outside!As Telcoguy states, 41c is in the shade. There will be thousands of people in the direct sunlight experiencing temperatures up to 50c!

Qatari 7 years ago

play at night

Qatari 7 years ago

@Telcoguy, you should change your name to "I Know Everything"Guy. So yeah, only time will tell. See you in Qatar WC 2022.

Monkey Tennis 7 years ago

1994 US - the yanks don't understand football, it'll be a disaster, they don't deserve it, they'll want bigger goals and no draws, they'll insist on playing quarters to suit US TV etc, etc... Average attendance per game 69,000; tournament acknowledged as a major success.
2002 - Japan/Korea - Asians can't play football, they don't deserve it, they all support Man U anyway and know nothing about the game, it's too hot and humid in the summer, no-one wants to travel between two countries etc..etc... Both hosts put in credible performances leading to more Asian footballers in major leagues and a new found respect for SE Asian football. Tournament a success.
2010 - South Africa - you must be joking, it isn't safe, no-one will travel there, FIFA need their heads examining; if supporters can't travel in safety they don't deserve the world cup. Tournament a success, minimal trouble.

It goes with the territory. Good luck Qatar in solving your particular challenges.

who you fooling 7 years ago

@ Qatari

Great idea, however people in Europe "work" for a living and may not want to stay up until 12pm 1am for a game to start and watch their team play!!

moonboy 7 years ago

Up to and beyond 50c, i have experienced 55c.
More shabby half reporting from Reuters and Arabian Business.
up to 40c? has no body from Reuters or AB ever been in Qatar in July?

Doug 7 years ago

Yes but none of these criticisms suggested these countries were physically incapable of hosting the World Cup. The debate here is whether Qatar can actually do it. Whether or not 50C happens is irrelevant. The fact is that an AVERAGE temperature of 41C is completely unsuitable for a 90 minute game of football - I think most teams and players would balk at the idea of playing in a MAXIMUM heat of 35C.

And this is before we've got to the other issues of crowd management in these temperatures, the problem of the requirement to serve alcohol, people sharing rooms with people they're not married to.....