Article

Researchers walking on sunshine at Qatar World Cup

10 May 2018

Solar power is moving from the rooftops to the streets at the 2022 FIFA World Cup – thanks to Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) research. 

Dr Azmy Gowaid and his team have devised solar tiles that will allow outdoor pedestrianised areas to double up as renewable energy makers. The tile can be used in virtually any outdoor pedestrian walkway exposed to daylight. This includes public squares, pavements, schools and university campuses. 

The concept was given life when organisers of the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 invited competitive pitches for innovative designs from around the world as they look to provide as environmentally-friendly and sustainable a tournament as possible. 

The subsequent pitch from Dr Gowaid and his team won them $100k funding from the organising committee to build a prototype, which will be developed further before use at the global football tournament. 

The individual solar floor tiles are epoxy based rather than glass, and are supported by a recycled plastic frame with an embedded concentrator lens and photovoltaic cells. They are also equipped with an innovative cooling mechanism that allows the tiles to function in a hot climate. The surface temperature in Qatar can reach 80°C. 

It is currently planned that a walkable area will be in place around one of the stadia currently under construction for the tournament. This will be used to test the concept in a real environment, collect operational data, and market the product during the World Cup.

Dr Gowaid said: “It is not a matter of choosing between traditional solar panels or walkable tiles, it is a matter of taking solar installations to a new territory that was not possible with traditional technology.  This tile design can function effectively in hot climates and is both cost-efficient and eco-friendly. 

“Should this prove successful, it is our dream that this product can eventually be installed at mass scale anywhere in the world – even in rainy old Glasgow! We want to see the tiles contribute to the energy supply mix of stadia, other sporting facilities and beyond to public squares, pavements, schools and university campuses.” 

GCU will provide support to Dr Gowaid and his team throughout the research and development process. The five-member research team includes two students and a technical advisor from Alexandria University, Egypt, and a research engineer at Texas A&M University in Qatar.