Energy cost for Qatar World Cup enough to power London for six months

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The total energy cost for building and running the stadiums, tourism, accommodation and other costs associated with the World Cup add up to more than enough to power every household in London for six months, a new study has claimed. A new report by boiler and central heating cover company Hometree has suggested that the total cost of the energy required to run the football World Cup 2022 in Qatar adds up to $2.3million (£2million). This dwarfs the energy bills of all the 3.5million households in London combined, which add up to £1.4million. The report highlights controversy over the environmental impact of the tournament, after Fifa faced backlash from climate activist groups for claiming the World Cup would be carbon neutral.

The cost of Qatar’s energy

In order to reach the eye-watering £2million figure, Hometree took into account the Qatari business electric prices per kWh, which are currently $0.036 (£0.032), compared with £0.34 per kWh in the UK. 

The total cost of running the football stadium itself for all 64 games will cost an estimated total of £57,600 (£50,410), the company claimed – with another $50,227 (£43,958) necessary to supply the stadiums with air conditioning for the duration. Meanwhile, a massive $864k (£756.1k) will be spent on accommodation for fans, as well as another $869.7k (£761.2k) for private apartments.

Adding to this is the cost of running the MSC Cruise Ships being used as additional accommodation for fans travelling to the country, as well as other forms of transportation such as electric buses and the 76km metro system to ferry fans to the games.

In total, according to Hometree, 64.5million kWh of energy will be spent to power the extra accommodation and transportation provided during the World Cup by Qatar – at a cost of $2.3million (£2million). This is roughly the same cost as leaving the microwave on for just under 60,000 hours, or nearly 30,000 hour-long washing machine cycles.

The World Cup’s carbon emissions

The daunting figures also highlight the issue of the carbon footprint of the World Cup. Ahead of the tournament kicking off, a FIFA report in June 2021 suggested the World Cup would produce up to 3.6million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The last World Cup in Russia, for comparison, released 2.1 million tonnes of CO2.

However, Fifa and Qatari authorities faced backlash from Carbon Market Watch, who estimated that the carbon footprint of the stadium’s construction was not 0.2m tonnes, as claimed by the organising bodies, but 1.6million tonnes.

Explaining this discrepancy, Carbon Market Watch’s Gilles Dufranse said: “Doha believes that the carbon footprint of their construction should be divided by their 60-year lifespan, ensuring that they will be used again. But for the moment, the authorities are still being very vague about what they are going to do with them. And in this country of only 2.4 million inhabitants, we think there is a real risk that they will only be used occasionally.”

Describing Qatar’s prediction as instance of “creative accounting” and “greenwashing”, the organisation argued that instead, the carbon footprint should be understood as the total of 1.6million tonnes, and not divided by 60 potential years of use.

Meanwhile, an estimate by French carbon calculating company Greenly estimated the total cost of the tournament would be over 6million tonnes of carbon emissions. This consists of the 1.6million tonnes already released from the new stadiums being built, an estimated carbon footprint of travel of 2.4million tonnes, and other carbon costs associated with the sporting event.

Other issues arise with the maintenance of the new pitches – the groundskeepers who maintain the eight stadium pitches, as well as the 136 practice fields, douse each field with 10,000 litres of desalinated water every day in the winter, according to Reuters. When it comes to summer, that climbs to a massive 50,000 litres for each field – with the water requiring an energy-intensive desalination process.

Qatar’s response to the climate crisis

Qatar has thus far pledged to buy 1.8million carbon offsets from the Global Carbon Council, a Doha-based carbon credit registry where renewable projects are verified and listed.

One carbon credit is equal to one metric ton of carbon dioxide avoided or removed from the atmosphere – although the system does have detractors who say that the effectiveness of them at combatting climate change is dubious.

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Qatari organisers insist regardless that the country is on track to host the first carbon-neutral World Cup, and have argued that the country’s efforts to offset its carbon emissions should be recognised, rather than criticised.

More positive steps taken by Qatar include 800 new electric buses, 16,000 trees and nearly 700,000 nursery-grown shrubs – as well as a new 800-megawatt solar power plant that has recently been hooked up to the power grid.

Saud Ghani, an engineering professor at Qatar University who designed the stadiums’ air-conditioning systems, said: “It’s really enhanced the energy basket for Qatar. Before we only burned gas to generate power.”

Karim Elgendy, a fellow at London’s Chatham House think tank who previously worked as a climate consultant for the World Cup, added that Qatar’s efforts at “greening” the tournament “show a positive trend for a sporting event.”

Mr Elgendy said these efforts indicate that Qatar, one of the world’s top natural gas exporters, is taking steps to improve its climate credentials, which is a positive step. He added that this was the case even if Qatar is “doing that in a way that works with them.”

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