Sao Paolo, Brazil -- Brazil is to host the World Cup in June and July 2014, when the most successful international soccer team in history will attempt to win the competition for a record sixth time — and for the first time on home soil. The tournament will also present Brazil with a huge opportunity to show the world it is finally ready to achieve its goals in a host of other important areas and leave behind its long-term status as the sleeping giant of the Americas.
Bold plans to make the month-long tournament the most sustainable yet staged are amongst the proposals, and solar power will have a key role to play in turning this ambition into a reality.
Brazil’s blueprint for staging a greener World Cup comes at a time when solar power companies, led by a host of Chinese firms, are investing huge amounts of money into sponsorship of sports and football clubs around the world.
As well as helping to raise solar energy’s profile with millions of sports fans, such deals also seem sure to improve awareness amongst sport’s financial backers of the potential economic benefits of installing panels that can double as both a building material and a clean power generator.
Industry figures predict that solar panels embedded in roofing could become a standard feature of stadia in the near future as the new wave of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) gains credibility in the world of big money sports.
Much attention has been given to Qatar’s plans for state-of-the-art solar stadia that helped the Gulf state win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. However, if Brazil realises all its own plans then the 2014 World Cup may yet be remembered as the first green football spectacular — a full eight years before Qatar.
The Brazilian government announced in September 2011 that all 12 tournament stadia would be expected to achieve a minimum sustainability standard. And, it was decided that Brazil’s National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES) will only open lines of finance for stadia committed to achieving the standard. ‘Even the arenas that didn’t request resources from BNDES opted to strive for certification of sustainable construction,’ said Fabricio Barreto, co-ordinator of the certification project for the stadia.
By the start of 2012, 10 of the 12 host venues had applied to the Green Building Council, the US-based non-profit organisation, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status.
Of the 10 — Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador — the jewel in the crown will be the refurbished Mané Garrincha stadium in the capital Brasília, which organisers hope will become the first football stadium in the world to achieve LEED Platinum status, the highest level attainable.
With renovation works due for completion in December 2012, among the key features will be a roof of tensioned canvas featuring an array of PV panels with capacity to generate 2.5 MWp. Sufficient to generate at least 50% of the stadium’s energy needs even in peak periods during the tournament, at other times, the energy produced is expected to comfortably surpass the arena’s needs with the excess being fed into the grid.
According to some reports, the construction costs could eventually surpass R$900 million (US$486 million), up from the R$688 million ($372 million) official estimate.
But a significant drop in operating and maintenance costs will result in annual savings of around R$7 million ($3.78 million) after completion, according to the office in charge of the project, which says it will provide a legacy for 50 years or more.
The revamped Maracanã in Rio, which will host the tournament final, will also have a ring of solar panels within the stadium roof.
The German firm Schlaich Bergermann & Partner has developed plans for the stadium to generate enough solar power to avoid 2560 tonnes of CO2 emissions, although earlier plans for the stadium to offer 3.3 MWp of solar power will not be realised. Nonetheless, solar will have an important role to play at other venues, many of which are still finalising their plans.
The Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto in Belo Horizonte, better known as the Mineirão, will have up to 1.5 MWp of solar panels installed in its roof.
In the northeastern city of Recife, the Pernambuco Arena will feature solar heating to supply energy to the changing rooms, toilets and kitchens.
Despite the ambitious plans now taking shape, it was only last August that the first concrete plans to install solar panels at a soccer stadium anywhere in Brazil — or indeed Latin America — were disclosed.
The 403 kWp PV system at the Pituaçu Stadium in Salvador, in the northeastern state of Bahia, is being installed in a joint effort by Gehrlicher Solar AG of Germany and Brazil’s Ecoluz Participacoes S.A., under the name Gehrlicher Ecoluz Solar do Brasil S.A. It is expected to provide 630 MWh annually from two different photovoltaic module technologies. The canopy covering most of the 32,157 seats features 238 kWp of US supplier Uni-Solar’s flexible thin-film modules, while the changing room and car park roofs house 165 kWp of Yingli’s monocrystalline modules.
The Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasília (Source: Castro Mello Arq. Esportiva)
Pituaçu will not host any official World Cup matches but will be used for some training sessions. However, the rapid installation of solar at the venue means it has been seen as an important forerunner for hopes of installing solar systems at match venues.
Claudio Langone, co-ordinator of the Chamber of the Environment and Sustainability for the 2014 World Cup, said his team was working ‘to set a new mark for sustainability’.
‘Germany in 2006 did some very good work, and South Africa in 2010 also had some interesting aspects,’ Langone said, referring to the past two World Cup tournaments.
‘In Brazil in 2014 the sustainability of the tournament will be the best so far achieved, incorporating new approaches to this issue. All the stadiums will meet a minimum standard for sustainability in construction, some that also use photovoltaic power will reach a higher standard still.’
With stadia in the cities of Cuiaba, Fortaleza and Manaus also committed, at least seven of the 12 venues are expected to use solar power.
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