One minute into added time, Harry Kane moves into the box ready for his goal-dealing header against Tunisia, getting England off to a flying start. As he gets into position, a power cut strikes the stadium and everything goes dark!
Thankfully that did not happen and the England v Tunisia game went off without a hitch. The FIFA World Cup stadiums are required to run like well-oiled machines with enough energy for all the cameras, scoreboards, advertising screens, loudspeakers and lights to stay on before, during and after the football match, without fail.
How much energy does a football stadium need during a World Cup game?
A stadium is a power-hungry beast. It consumes up to 25,000 KWh during a 90-minute match. The power used in those 90 minutes could keep more than a dozen homes going for an entire year.
Stadium energy consumption changes depending on the season, especially in Russia, where some of the World Cup refurbishments include heated seating and turfs. Heating and cooling systems definitely burn through kilowatts faster than Neymar goes through hairstyles.
Krasnodar Stadium in Russia
Stadium lights also use a lot of energy because FIFA is very picky when it comes to illuminating the pitch evenly. Floodlighting, scoreboards and advertising screens account for almost 40% of total energy use during a game. All the while, kitchens and catering services need to heat up food and keep drinks chilled for 80,000 people, which can easily burn through more than 20% of the stadium’s total energy use.
Broadcasting the game live requires powerful satellite transmitters, countless HD cameras and purpose-built editing suites making up about 11% of all energy usage so that football fans around the world can join in and enjoy the game.
It is estimated your average World Cup stadium could power a small town without breaking a sweat, from kick off until the final whistle. If looking at football’s energy usage blows your mind, we are at half-time.
During your average football match, a midfielder will run close to 10 miles and burn through 1600 calories (that’s two chicken vindaloos for the rest of us). In a perfect world, a runner on a treadmill for 90 minutes could keep a hairdryer blasting for 10 minutes, a small TV turned on for ten hours or a single light bulb going for a day and a half. Mileage may vary depending on the player, however. David Seaman may have kept numerous clean sheets in goal, but his power rating - like many goalkeepers - is about a tenth of the average midfielder.
How much energy do you use watching the match at home?
While stadium energy consumption seems positively colossal, watching it at home is a whole other ball game. Five or so football fans enjoying the World Cup at home can kick off energy usage well past 6kWh.
Keeping your home toasty or cool, watching on the 4K OLED TV you got from Argos and loading up your fridge with bevvies can run up the score on your energy bills. Just like the largest stadium, watching the game at home requires heating, lighting and energy to cool drinks or warm up food. The question is: how does a massive stadium compare to your humble abode?
When you break down the energy consumption per football fan watching at home or in a stadium, you are going to be as shocked as Chris Waddle after his infamous penalty miss in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. If we compare fans like for like, a football fan cheering in a stadium is up to 35% more energy efficient than a couch potato.
So if you are a football fan and you want to do your bit for the environment, you should go and watch your football in a stadium with as many mates as possible to cheer your team on to victory and the stadium on to greater energy efficiency. Or, if you can’t make it to Russia, at least pop down to the pub, it’s the green thing to do!
Is Russia actually ready for the 2018 World Cup?
It seems that Russia has learned its lesson from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where athletes had to contend with falling curtains and cider-coloured tap water. To make sure the 2018 World Cup runs smoothly, Russia has invested over £2 billion in new state-of-the-art stadiums and infrastructure:
- Gazprom, a World Cup sponsor, has built new gas-fired power stations which can generate electricity very quickly to stay on the ball for any spikes in energy demand.
- During the World Cup matches, power stations will be on the defensive with cybersecurity by switching off remote computer control.
- Twelve stadiums have been built or renovated to accommodate anywhere between 40 and 80,000 fans a piece. Innovations include fibre optic lighting that channels natural light to darker parts of the stadium without consuming any power.
Gazprom is Russia's biggest energy company. It started out in Soviet Russia during the Second World War. The company has been able to tap into the largest natural gas reserve in the world and become an unrivalled energy producer in Russia. Gazprom has built more than 100,000 miles of pipeline to send natural gas as far Denmark and China. Because of its size, Gazprom effectively sets Russian energy policy and is able to impact energy prices even here in the UK due to our falling natural gas production.