Thursday, December 9, 2010

Qatar assures air-conditioned World Cup

world-cup-2022For the tiny desert state, where summer temperatures soar over 40 C (104 F), it is a triumph of goal and technology. As recently as November, FIFA expressed concerns over the country's climate, which it said should be considered "a possible health risk for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators."

But football's governing body seems to have been swayed by Qatar's plans to conquer the sweltering heat by building nine new fully air-conditioned open-air stadiums that work using solar power.

Solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic panels on the exterior the stadiums and on their roofs will harness energy from the blazing Qatari sun.

It will be used to chill water, which in turn will cool air previous to it is blown through the stadium, keeping pitch temperatures below 27 C (80 F).

Qatar 2022's bid book director Yasir Al Jamal said it would be the first time these technologies have been combined to keep a stadium cool.

"Stadium seats will be cooled using air forced at the spectator ankle zone at a temperature of 18 C," he said.

world-cup-2022"The same air will also be projected from the back and neck area of the seats, ensuring that each seating row of each stadium provides maximum comfort and enjoyment to fans," he continued.
Jamal said the photovoltaic panels will sell abroad electricity to Qatar's national grid, which will make the cooling system carbon neutral.

He added that the same system would be used to cool the competing teams' training amenities.
News that Qatar will host the World Cup was greeted with jubilation in its capital, Doha. "We're not only going to host a successful World Cup, we're going to host the best World Cup ever," said Qatari Mohammed Al-Jofairi.

It's a major coup for a country with a population of less than one million and currently placed 113th in the FIFA world rankings.

world-cup-2022"First cost [initial expenditures] on creating all these option energy systems can be fairly high, so you just need to look at what your payback is going to be. But in Qatar, they may not be concerned about payback at all."

Qatar plans to use 12 stadiums to host the rivalry and German architects AS&P have produced conceptual designs for nine new stadiums, and upgrades to three existing venues.

As well as using solar power to cool the stadiums, AS&P partner Joachim Schares said their designs include retractable roofs, to keep out the blazing sun.

"We will close the roof in the days before the match so the temperature cools down before the match," he said.

"The roof could stay closed [during matches] so that every seat in the stadium and the pitch is fully shaded, or if FIFA requires teams to play with an open roof we could open it and still guarantee a temperature of 27 C."

Some of the stadiums will feature a modular design that means they can be dismantled after the tournament and rebuilt in countries looking to develop their football infrastructure.

Keir Radnedge of World Soccer Magazine said, "This is a leap into the unknown. It's the first Muslim country to host the World Cup and the first Middle East country to host the World Cup, and I think that's probably an attraction for FIFA to go there.

"That's going to be an amazing experience, an amazing journey."