Preparing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

 By Nicholas Newman

The World Cup 2018 is now over and France, inebriated with its recent victory, is still celebrating the success of the “Bleus”. There’s no time to waste though, because preparing for a World Cup is not a piece of cake…

In 2022, Qatar is set to host the 22nd FIFA World Cup, one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. With a worldwide audience of billions watching on tablets, television and listening on radio, the 32 national football teams which will compete in at least eight stadiums watched. To avoid summer-time temperatures of up to 40°C in this Middle Eastern Gulf state, FIFA has agreed to reschedule the month-long event to start on 21 November and end on 18 December, Qatar’s National Day. Even in the winter months, the temperature will be around 30°C and so play will be confined to the evenings.

Qatar World Cup 2022 - Official Trailer

For the World Cup 2022 organizers, ensuring that everything is ready for the football fans is a huge logistical challenge, especially the need to keep everyone cool, given the high temperatures of the region. One key issue is to ensure that there is enough power to meet the massive demand in electricity to supply hotels, stadiums, media centers, communications and accompanying IT as well as the near 50 percent temporary increase in population. Therefore, this event will require a large investment in both permanent and temporary power generation, using a mix of oil, gas and renewables. Furthermore, this World Cup is likely to be the first fully-integrated Smart Grid and Internet-of -Things managed event.

Solar power developments

Five of the eight FIFA 2022 World Cup stadiums are expected to employ pioneering solar-powered cooling technology. With average daily sunshine of around 9.5 hours, horizontal irradiance of 2,140 kWh per m2 per year, low-cloud cover conditions and plentiful space, Qatar could well meet its target of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs from solar in the not-too-distant future. On an industrial scale Qatar Solar Technologies relies on a 1.1 MW ground and roof mounted solar farm to generate power for its polysilicon processor, which produces the silicon used in solar cells. Last summer, construction began on a 200-MW solar power plant and there are plans to expand its capacity to 500 MW in the future. Small scale roof top solar projects exist in Mshereib Downtown Doha, as a sustainable downtown regeneration project and an integrated energy hub are being built between Lusail City and the capital.

The Lusail Iconic Stadium (

Among the challenges facing further usage of solar power in the region, is the high amounts of dust in the air and extreme desert heat. Such conditions can severely impair the energy efficiency of such installations. Therefore, large scale solar development will depend on finding the means to operate PVs in extreme heat and the ability to keep solar panels free from dust. Researchers at the Qatar Environment & Energy Research Institute (QEERI), which is funded by the Qatar Foundation, a public and private-supported non-profit, are looking into these challenges. If a solution can be found, then solar power usage in desert conditions can be greatly expanded.
In addition, World Cup 2022 laborers in Qatar have been given solar powered “cooling” hard hats which reduce their body temperature as they build football stadiums in the extreme desert heat.

A view of the construction work at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha (Reuters)

Efforts to be more sustainable

Qatar’s World Cup promoters are doing everything to ensure that their stadium designs meet the Gulf region’s Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) green buildings and infrastructure certification framework. For instance, the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium designed by Fenwick Iribarren Architects (FI-A), uses a modular design embracing modified shipping containers. Fundamental stadium elements can be quickly assembled and disassembled at various locations as, and when, required. This design requires fewer materials, is less wasteful and reduces the carbon footprint of construction and at the same time reduces the build time to as little as three years. At the Lusail Iconic Stadium, designed by Foster + Partners, the roof can be completely covered to protect people inside from the heat, but operable louvres will allow the pitch to be exposed. Finally there will be at least three stadiums equipped with solar panels on roofs and shaded car parking and even in pavements.
Qatar and its partners are working hard to ensure that fans have an enjoyable and memorable time at World Cup 2022.

READ MORE: Energy plays soccer in Russia by Nicholas Newman

about the author
Nicholas Newman
Freelance energy journalist and copywriter who regularly writes for AFRELEC, Economist, Energy World, EER, Petroleum Review, PGJ, E&P, Oil Review Africa, Oil Review Middle East. Shale Gas Guide.