Waste Heat : Fortum to divert waste heat from data processing centre to district heating network

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A carbon neutral district heating network is set to be established in Espoo.

The second largest city in Finland will utilise and convert waste heat generated by data processing centres into thermal power that will serve to heat residential areas.

Said district heating network will be the result of a public private partnership between the City of Espoo and Finnish energy company Fortum.

The general idea behind the project is to produce heat sans combustion, an interim goal being the discontinuation of coal use by 2025. Fortum hopes to up the ante of carbon neutral district heating by 85% in this time. By 2029, the energy provider intends to raise the share of renewable sources for heat production by 95%.

These plans will entail the shutdown of two out of three Fortum operated combined heat and power (CHP) plants, one being a coal-burning steam turbine, the other being a combined cycle-gas turbine.

Fortum intends to host a data processing centre, to be built in Espoo and is currently on the lookout for data processing companies willing to invest in appropriate heat production equipment. Meanwhile, Fortum plans to be responsible for heat delivery, processing as well as connection to the district heating network itself.

On average, personal computers produce a negligible amount of heat yet rows of servers in a data centre generate an excess that can prove worrisome with regards to engineering. Capturing and diverting that waste heat to district heating networks proves an alternative solution to cooling investments.

According to Fortum, waste heat generated from a 100 MW data centre could serve to offset 35% of heat demand in Espoo’s district heating network.

By 2030, the energy company hopes to provide carbon neutral district heating to the Kirkokonummi and Kauniainen regions as well as to Espoo.