Qatar has commissioned the development of a carbon-neutral ‘model stadium’ ahead of its planned hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. We look at how it is being used to develop football-friendly climate tech.
Qatar’s position as hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup may be criticised, but the fact remains that the country’s preparations for the event have already begun.
An important aspect of this is showing that Qatar – a country that sees regular summer temperatures of 41°C (106°F) – can provide adequate facilities for football to be played safely. To demonstrate this, the country engaged the services of Arup Associates, an architectural and engineering practice with a global reputation for innovative, future-focused structures.
The result was a ‘model stadium’: a 500-seater, zero-carbon mini stadium named Qatar Showcase, which Arup Associates describes as “proof-of-concept for innovative cooling and climate control technologies.”
It’s a valuable achievement not only for a possible world cup, but also for the wider region, which is seeing growth in the popularity of football.
Technologies within the structure create a controlled microclimate to make football possible in any weather, and also generate power to remove reliance on externally-produced energy.
Now they have been proved, the technologies can be replicated on a larger scale, ultimately finding their way into full-scale stadiums.
Sun-tracking revolving stadium roof
Qatar Showcase’s roof canopy is the most striking aspect of its design, but its ability to revolve also provides significant climate benefits by letting the stadium be tailored to current temperatures and wind levels.
In the heat of the summer, the roof can be moved to follow the sun’s rays, always ensuring that the pitch and stands are protected from excess heat and sunlight. If the weather is particularly hot, the canopy can be closed in advance to cool the stadium ready for the match.
If a game is being played on a summer evening – when it is cooler and more tolerable to play – the roof can also be opened to show the star-speckled sky above the pitch.
In many parts of the year, however, the weather is ideal for football, and cutting the players off from it would be a waste. Instead the canopy can also be positioned to let the sun in, ensuring a pleasant playing environment all year round.
Solar farm for zero-carbon football
Next to Qatar Showcase is a solar farm of photovoltaic panels, which can be operated all year round.
Whenever the stadium is empty, the panels are set up to export energy back to the national grid, but on a match day requirements will exceed their output, so additional power will be drawn from the grid and from biofuel-powered generators.
Each year this results in more energy being put into the national grid than is taken out, a neat solution that makes the facility zero carbon for its electricity needs.
Using the sun to cool the stadium
Somewhat incredibly, the sun’s heat can also be used to cool the stadium down.
Next to the solar panels are solar heat collectors, which are fitted with motorised sun-tracking mirrors.
These reflect into collecting tubes containing hot water, heating it to 200°C and passing it through machines known as absorption chillers to turn it into cooling water, which is stored for circulation using air-handling units during games.
While this sounds like a bizarre, somewhat futuristic technology, industrial cooling systems have being using this method for a century, proving that reappropriation of technology can be just as effective as invention.
Images courtesy of Arup Associates.