Faced with concerns about emissions and reliance on energy supplies from other countries, many European countries are turning to existing technologies to heat their homes.
The continent is already home to numerous data centers run by some of the biggest tech companies that use huge amounts of energy to keep computers and computers warm. servers cool.
The huge amount of heat generated as a byproduct of storing our growing database is usually dissipated by the use of air conditioners or cooling towers, meaning the heat is wasted. However, more and more data centers are now using excess heat to heat homes and buildings.
Heating data centers
In Denmark, Meta has been recovering excess heat from its Odense data center since 2020 and hopes to be able to heat the equivalent of 11,000 homes next year.
Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have begun planning similar activities, and Alphabet has also pledged to explore the possibilities.
Ten Dutch data centers are already connected to district heating systems that distribute excess heat to nearby homes and buildings, and another 15 are in the pipeline.
There are many advantages to using data centers to heat homes. Reduces the need for fossil fuels that are typically used to heat homes in Europe. Then there is the potential to reduce carbon emissions as data centers are already often powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
In France and Denmark, national and local governments have introduced tax incentives to make smarter use of excess heat, while some building permits require the recovery of additional heat.
In addition to heating homes, data centers are also used to heat greenhouses, allowing farmers to grow crops all year round. According to Jeroen Burks (via Digital Whole Grain (opens in a new tab)), the founder of the Dutch data center, a 180 kW data center would be able to heat up to 5,000 square meters of greenhouse space during the winter months: enough to produce 250 metric tons of tomatoes.
The use of data centers to heat homes and buildings is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and is expected to grow in the coming years. It is a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to heat homes and other buildings and shows how many ways technology can be used to address some of the recent challenges facing the continent and even the world.
By Wall Street Journal (opens in a new tab)