Sport is important to millions of people throughout the world. In every country and at every level we organise ourselves into clubs and compete. Sometimes the competition is for reward, and then the rewards can be astronomical, but more often than not we play for the sheer fun of attempting to beat our opponents.
In Malta, they love their sport as much as anywhere else and in Malta they have a stadium at Ta'Qali in Valetta. They call it the National Stadium and it is used by many sporting people although it operates under the auspices of the Malta Football Association.
The Maltese celebrated the Millennium by building a stand for the National Stadium, so that Ta'Qali can now hold 17,000 spectators. The Millennium Stand covers a foot print of around 5,000 m².
Recently the magical French football team played at the stadium, but the complex caters for more than highly paid professional sports people. It was critical to the Malta Football Association that the stadium was not used for one or two matches a week but as often as possible and by the whole community. You can swim there, play squash there or even practice your small arms shooting. If you are so inclined, you may use one of the state of the art gymnasia. There are catering facilities so you can enjoy some food and perhaps a bottle of wine.
When designing the new stand, it was felt important to address the environmental issues by incorporating sustainability into the project. They chose our German company, ThermoSolar, to provide Genersys flat plate panels to heat water including the half-Olympic sized swimming pool. Engineers from Germany installed over 70 flat plate panels, making a total absorber area in excess of 120 m². Engineers carried out the finishing and commissioning work in December, just after they completed training Genersys installers at a project in the London Borough of Haringey.
The energy generated is substantial, saving on fossil fuel and carbon emissions. We are very proud that our product is associated, if only in a small way, with this project; the people of Malta and the Malta Football Association are rightly proud of their new stand built on sound environmental foundations.
As far as I know there are no plans for thermal solar energy to be installed in any British major sporting stadium whether it is the new Wembley, the proposed new Arsenal stadium or at Old Trafford even though I am sure that all the sports people using these stadia also use hot showers. I am unaware of any existing solar installations at any stadium in our country.
It would be nice to hear that our own commitment to the environment was as great as that of tiny Malta. Solar energy can make an important and significant contribution, and perhaps in environmental terms, it is not too much to ask that energy efficiency and carbon saving be mandatory in all new projects. After all, if the community gives permission to develop and the development permitted causes environmental damage, the community should insist that the damage be minimised not only in the short term but for many years to come.