Data Heat

Producing emission-free data heat on-site

01 – What is it

Servers located in data centers generate waste heat as a byproduct. Servers always use a lot of electricity, which turns into harmful heat for the data center. Waste heat is usually not utilized in traditional, large data centers, but has to be transferred to the air or sea.

In the innovation of Vatajankoski and greentech startup Kuulea, the servers are placed in locations where the heat is fed directly into the heat network of the property that needs it. The customer gets affordable and ecological heat, which is produced on-site. By utilizing the waste heat of the servers, the need for heating energy production can be reduced, and large-scale computing does not burden the environment.

02 – How it works

Data is not stored on the servers, but their capacity is rented to companies that need high-performance computing. Thus, there is no need for heavy guarding or extinguishing systems. Servers that perform calculations can be taken directly to where heat is needed. Vatajankoski sells data heat cheaply for heating the same building.

The size of the system can be easily scaled according to the property’s energy needs. The remotely readable meter shows how much energy the system produces. Vatajankoski owns the servers. Data heat is an easy-to-implement solution – the only requirements are a fiber optic connection and a constant need for heat.

03 – How it can be used

Vatajankoski implemented a pilot project in Kankaanpää, in which servers were scattered throughout the building. Eight servers have been placed in Kankaanpää’s swimming hall, and the water in the swimming hall is now heated by, for example, processing data from a foreign bank. Data heat is best suited for places where heat is needed evenly throughout the year.

Excellent applications for data heat are, for example, hotels, spas and municipal swimming pools. In addition to inexpensive waste heat, customers benefit from a green image and emission reductions. Design offices, banks, and for example, animation studios can benefit from server space.

The swimming hall of Kankaanpää has eight 2 kW servers with total heat output of 16 kW. About 50 percent of the heat needed for swimming pools is produced with data heat. Photo: Jari Hakkarainen
In Kankaanpää, you can swim in water that is 50% heated by data heat, e.g. processing data from a foreign bank. Particularly suitable locations for a distributed data center are swimming pools, spas, hotels and shopping centers, and other buildings with a constant and high heat demand.
The steady heat production of the data servers heats the water in the pools.

Tech Specs

  • The specially made servers are placed in the thermal customer’s premises
  • Vatajankoski sells the recovered data heat to the customer directly to the indoor heating network, and Kuulea sells green computing capacity to customers who need it
  • For example, the Kankaanpää swimming pool has eight 2 kW devices with a total heat output of 16 kW, covering 50% of the heat needed for swimming pools
  • The rendering of a 90-minute animated film produces 102 MWh, which covers the heat needs of a 10-apartment townhouse for the whole year
  • The ERE value, which measures the efficiency of energy reuse, is up to 96%, which is tens of percent higher than typically found in data centers