Facebook, which went public with the project, said its site is providing about 100,000MWh of heat each year. Madeleine Cuff explains latest developments in an article on the inews website.
Facebook data centre serves up heating for 7,000 Danish homes, cutting carbon emissions
Tech companies have gone to extreme lengths to help their data centres shed the excess heat pumped out by servers – including sinking them to the bottom of the ocean.
But in the Danish city of Odense, tech firm Facebook is putting the waste heat to good use.
Since September its new data centre on the fringes of the city is pumping excess heat into thousands of homes, in a pioneering heat network scheme that will cut the city’s carbon emissions.
Facebook, which went public with the project, said its site is providing about 100,000MWh of heat each year – enough to warm about 6,900 homes.
“We’re excited to be producing heat for the community,” said Lauren Edelman, energy specialist at Facebook. “We’re operating right now as a partial operation because it’s summer and there is low demand, but we are excited to ramp up to our full potential by the end of this year.”
How it works
Cooling can suck up to 40 per cent of a data centre’s energy bill, so it’s in Facebook’s interest to find a cheap way to pipe in cold water and pipe out excess heat.
In Odense, water warmed by the data centre’s servers is piped into a nearby heat pump facility operated by the local district heating firm Fjernvarme Fyn.
Fjernvarme Fyn warms the water up a little further with one of its electric heat pumps – powered by renewables – before it is piped into homes and buildings across the city.
Odense already heats its buildings via a district heating system, where heat comes from a central source and is piped to nearby residents. That made it relatively easy for Facebook to start feeding its excess heat into a town’s network.
In the UK, where most heating comes from the natural gas grid, using the excess heat from a data centre in the same way might not be so straightforward.