Cities in Sweden and Norway are researching ways to capture heat produced by data centers in order to make use of what was once considered a useless byproduct.
- Computer servers at data centers emit vast amounts of heat, which currently dissipates into the air around them. With this new effort from Sweden and Norway, that heat could meet 10% of Stockholm’s heating needs.
- Data centers currently account for 1% of the world’s electricity usage. Recycling the heat they emit is one way to reduce their effect on the environment.
- Currently, the heat produced by the servers is piped out of the complex and into the open air, but by directing the heat into underground water systems, it can be redirected to heat homes and offices.
- Energy company Stockholm Exergi currently buys all waste heat from nearby data centers during the coldest months of winter. The heating method is cheaper than other options and data centers win by being paid to cool off their facilities.
Why it’s news
By repurposing waste, cities can both save residents money and help the environment, a win for everyone involved.
Some U.S. locations are already implementing similar measures. Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, for example, is heated with data-center waste—potentially saving 80 million kilowatt hours of electricity over the next 25 years.
Syracuse University’s data center provides heat to an office building not far from its location.
Unfortunately, building the necessary infrastructure to support the new heating system is expensive and will take time. Norway is combating this problem by installing the heating system in a rural, underdeveloped area, lowering the initial cost.
Like many new ideas, implementation may take time, but if successful, the benefits could be far reaching.
Backing up a bit
As new technology is developed, more companies are finding ways to recycle the waste and byproducts. EV batteries are another recent example.
Upcycled energy storage company Hardened Network Solutions has found one use for old electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
The company uses the old batteries to store power on their emergency power generators, equipment that can provide power for as long as five days.
EVs are still new and it will take time for businesses to learn how EV batteries can be useful to them, but Hardened Network Solutions is just one example of how that process is already beginning.