Thursday, December 2, 2010

Can Qatar World Cup Be Green? (UPDATE: No.)

When I heard that the 2022 World Cup had been awarded to Qatar, my first thought was, "Least green World Cup ever?" (You can tell The Green Miles is not a soccer fan. I tend to agree with Homer Simpson's take.)

Temperatures in Qatar in June & July average 106 degrees. Won't huge amounts of energy be required to keep spectators & players cool? But Qatar claims its World Cup will be carbon-neutral:
We’re pioneering technologies that will allow for outdoor, air-conditioned stadiums that will be carbon neutral, benefitting the environment and creating ideal conditions for players and spectators. After the FIFA World Cup™, these stadiums will be partially deconstructed, allowing us to build 22 new stadiums in the developing world. The technologies we are developing to cool our stadiums will also be made available for use around the world.
I'm eager to hear details & learn whether Qatar's plan is viable or greenwashing. I'm sure we'll hear much more in the months & years ahead.

UPDATE: From Planet Forward's David Raish:
This air conditioning will be powered by solar panels on the stadiums themselves. It is a $50 billion project designed by a German firm, Büro Albert Speer & Partner. The air conditioning system will reduce temperatures inside the stadium to 27°C, which will be a much more bearable temperature for both fans and players.

According to Al-Jazeera, “solar thermal collectors on the stadium roof will transfer and store energy which on match days will chill water, creating cold air that will be delivered into the stadium and on to the pitch through slots in the seats.” When the stadium is not in use, “The system will continuously export energy to the Qatar electric grid, enabling the stadiums to be carbon neutral.”
UPDATE #2: Fast Company is a bit skeptical of Qatar's ability to pull off all of its carbon-neutral promises.

UPDATE #3: If the stadiums can't be cooled down enough, will soccer's rules have to change for the 2022 World Cup? (For answer, see update #5.)

UPDATE #4: Qatar is canceling 4 of its 12 planned stadiums because it couldn't meet its budget unless it used slave labor. Not a great vote of confidence for surviving global warming with massive air conditioning schemes.

UPDATE #5: FIFA has moved the 2022 Qatar World Cup to winter to prevent athletes from dying in the heat and stripped Qatar of Confederations Cup hosting priviledges, a pre-World Cup series of friendlies that usually serves as a test run for the host.

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