Data Center Google, ©

Data Centers: hot water from cold air

Posted on 29 March 2014.

Heat can be recycled, too! And one day our computers could supply our heating systems.

In the future, energy recovered from data centers could supply our houses, shops and public facilities with heat and hot water. Several systems of this kind are gradually being developed across the world (article in French).

There are more than 500,000 data centers in the world and they are thought to account for around 2% of global CO2 emissions. While the centers are increasingly energy efficient and even environmentally friendly thanks to the use of renewable energies, they are expected to increase in number by 5 to 10% annually in the next few years.

What if these huge, energy-guzzling “factories” for data storage could supply energy in addition to consuming it?

Data centers require air conditioning to operate because they generate a lot of heat. Yet the systems used to cool them also generate heat, which is usually lost. The idea is to recover this lost energy using a heat exchanger which transforms it into 55°C water distributed through the district heating network via an energy production plant. At the Val d’Europe business park in France, for example, energy recovered from a data center will eventually supply 26 GWh and avoid 5,400 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Using heat from data centers as a green energy source to meet heating needs: a new technological milestone that offers a promising path to greener computing.

Main picture : Data Center Google, ©