How Russia is Powering the World Cup

Energy plays soccer in Russia

More than 1.5 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup…

Written by Nicholas Newman,, June 26, 2018

This summer’s football festival takes place in eleven Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg and Sochi.

Of the 12 venues, the 81,000-seater Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and the 68,134-seater Saint Petersburg Stadium (the two largest stadiums in Russia) will host seven matches each. Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novogrod and Samara will host six matches each, including one quarter-final match. Moscow, at the Otkrytiye Stadium, and Rostov-on-Don will each host five matches, while Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk will each host four matches. For this program, the organizers and Russia itself face the challenge of providing enough power at the right place and the right time.

Demand for energy

People from all over the world are expected to attend the games. They will need to be fed, accommodated, cooled and transported to the matches in this vast country. Some will fly between cities, while others will drive or take the train to attend matches. Although, no demand forecasts have been released for the Russian World Cup, data from the last World Cup in Brazil found the event used enough energy to fuel 260 million cars and trucks in the United States for an entire day, or the equivalent of what 560,000 cars use in a year. As for the fans at home, their national power grids are likely to see a spike in demand at half time. In the case of the Brazil World Cup 2014 these matches caused the following spikes in demand: from British viewers watching England v Uruguay, (a 1.3 GW surge — the equivalent of 520,000 kettles), England v Costa Rica (1.2 GW or 480,000 kettles) and England v Italy (900 MW or 360,000 kettles).


Russia is one of the world’s leading power producers and consumers. In January 2018, demand for power was 102.4 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of which, around two thirds was met by coal and gas power plants, with the remainder derived from a mix of nuclear plants, hydropower plants and captive power plants at industrial enterprises. Russia’s power providers – Rosseti the state power grid company, the three largest power generating companies and last but not least, the state gas grid operator Gazprom, have invested heavily in infrastructure and increased capacity to ensure that power supplies will comfortably exceed the requirements of both the venues and fans during the 30 days of the games.


Due to the immense size of Russia, the distances between different stadiums is considerable. For example, Moscow is 1,623.2 km distant from the Black Sea resort of Sochi or two and half hours by plane or one day by electric express train. To reduce the event’s carbon footprint and traffic congestion, more than 700 additional trains will be in operation and President Putin announced in Sochi in May “I want to note, that for the first time in the World Cup’s history, Russia has guaranteed the right of free transit to football fans.


Six of the ten stadiums being readied for the world cup will be assessed according to BREEAM standards and feature energy-efficient floodlights, efficient heating and heat recovery systems. All in all they will consume 40 percent less energy than a comparable building.

Power supply

The state power grid company Rosseti, the operator of energy networks in Russia – is one of the largest power companies in the world. It manages 2.3 million kilometers of power lines and 496,000 substations with a total transformer capacity of more than 773,000 MVA.As part of ongoing investment plans to improve the grids energy efficiency, Rosseti is increasing its use of smart technology to reduce its current distribution infrastructure. It currently loses 12 percent of its transmitted energy (comparatively, Europe electrical network losses rest at only 4-9 percent), which adds up to a loss of $10 billion per year. Such investment in grid upgrades Rosseti CEO Oleg Budargin expects could reduce electricity losses by 25 percent and save as much as 35 billion kWh of power.

In detail, Rossetti invested in several grid power stability projects including, the construction of substations near stadiums such as the Cosmos Arena in Samara, the Presnya in Moscow, the Beregovaya in Kaliningrad and the Rostov Arena in Rostov. Operational from mid-August 2017, the Sportivnaya substation for the Rostov Arena and other infrastructure facilities has a capacity of 80 MegaVoltAmper – which is almost six times the estimated power requirement of the 45,000 seat spectator stadium. The Rostov Arena stadium will host four games of the qualifying stage.

In time for the World Cup, one of the country’s largest power generation companies, Gazprom hasopened several power plants in the last few years. In 2016, Gazprom opened two new coal-fired power units with a total capacity of some 1 GW at the Troitsk and Novocherkassk SDPPs, operated by its subsidiary OGK-2. In St. Petersburg, it completed construction of a 100 MW gas turbine CHPP at Power Plant No. 1 of the central CHPP operated by TGC-1.

Lastly, to ensure reliable power supplies and following previous practice for major events and worldwide practice, the Russian Deputy Energy Minister, Andrei Cherezov, announced plans to suspend remote control of power facilities during the World Cup to prevent them from potential cyberattacks.


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