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Retrofitting of data centres one way to energy-efficient heat generation

Fortum Oslo Varme’s energy distribution system and data centre operator, Digiplex, will cater to the heating needs of approximately 5,000 apartments, company’s representative says

| | Sep 11, 2018 | 5:27 pm
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Oslo, Norway, 11 September 2018: Fortum Oslo Varme’s 60-mile thermal energy distribution system and data centre operator Digiplex, will cater to the heating needs of approximately 5,000 apartments, said Geoff Fox, Group Chief Innovation and Engineering Officer, DigiPlex Data Centres. Elaborating on the project, he said: “The energy efficiency factor comes from using modular series mounted heat pumps, rather than large cumbersome centralised chillers, hence, reducing running costs. In general terms, Fortum will bring the system, piping it into the DigiPlex site, which terminates in a heat exchanger. After which DigiPlex will provide heat at the prescribed temperature on to the facility side of the heat exchanger.”

Geoff Fox

Explaining how waste heat re-capture improves data centre efficiency, Fox said, “The benefit comes from capturing high Megawatts (MW) of energy and instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, we will recycle it into a usable form.” Highlighting that the project uses the Indirect Evaporative Cooling (IEC) system, he said, “Special coils are placed in the air plenum where heat in the exhaust air is captured by cold water running in the coils, lifting the temperature to 68 degrees C, using heat pumps.” However, he mentioned that DigiPlex might introduce a system that recovers waste heat with the help of generators, instead of heat pumps.

Fox also pointed at retrofitting of existing data centres as a good solution to using waste-heat for local district heating. Elaborating on the subject, he said, “One example is the DigiPlex and Stockholm agreement, where an operational data centre was retrofitted to heat approximately 10,000 residential apartments.” He said that, in the future, DigiPlex plans to cater to 10% of Stockholm’s heating needs just by creating a synergy between recovered data centre heat and the city’s heating needs. He added: “One of the city of Stockholm’s environmental objectives is to be fossil-fuel free by the year 2040. Using by-product heat is an efficient way of generating heat through data centres, which might encourage end-users to ask for clean and green data centres in the near future.”

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