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Heat generated by data centre to be used to warm 10,000 new London homes

‘Data centres have got a huge problem with heat,’ explained Mark Bjornsgaard of start-up Deep Green earlier this year. ‘A lot of the money that it costs to run a data centre is taken up in getting rid of the heat and so what we’ve done is taken a very small bit of a data centre to where the heat is useful and required.’

He was referring to a washing-machine-sized data centre that was being used to heat a swimming pool in Devon, saving the leisure centre thousands of pounds in energy bills.black ImgIX server system

This concept is now to be used on a considerably larger scale in London, thanks to £36m from the Green Heat Network Fund – a three year, £288 million capital grant fund that supports the commercialisation and construction of new low and zero carbon heating cooling networks.

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation(OPDC) is a Mayoral Development Corporation, established by the Mayor of London to secure the regeneration of the Old Oak Opportunity area, spanning land in three London boroughs – Ealing, Brent and Hammersmith & Fulham.

Here, waste heat from large computer systems storing internet data will be recycled to supply heating for the local community.  The heat network will connect 10,000 new homes and 250,000m² of commercial space to this low-carbon energy source.

David Lunts, Chief Executive of the Corporation said: ‘Recycling the huge amounts of wasted heat from our local data centres into heat and energy for local residents, a major hospital and other users is an exciting and innovative example of OPDC’s support for the mayor’s net zero ambitions.

‘We are excited to be leading the way in developing low carbon infrastructure, supporting current and future generations of Londoners in Old Oak and Park Royal to live more sustainably.’

The OPDC is one of five recipients of nearly £65 million which has been awarded to fund  innovate, low cost heat networks. The others are:

  • a new heat pump housing estate in Chilton Woods, Suffolk will see nearly 1,000 homes and a primary school provided with low carbon heating. The project, which has received £745,000, will also include a thermal store, meaning any excess energy generated from the system will be fed into the wider National Grid
  • the London Borough of Brent will receive nearly £5.2 million for the South Kilburn District Heat Network, supplying heat using air source heat pumps combined with back up gas boilers to 34 sites via a 2.79km pipe network, connecting 2,900 customers.
  • Watford Community Housing (WCH), a not-for-profit housing association with approximately 5,700 homes, will receive £1.8 million of funding to replace an old gas district heating system with ground source and air source heat pumps. This will provide heat to 252 apartments across 6 blocks
  • Lancaster University will receive more than £21 million to fully decarbonise its campus with a low carbon energy centre. The centre will use air source heat pumps, thermal storage and electrical infrastructure works

Matthew Basnett, the Association for Decentralised Energy’s (ADE) Heat Network Policy Lead, said: ‘Heat decarbonisation in buildings is a huge challenge, and one that is often fundamentally misunderstood – heat networks are the only internationally proven route for decarbonising heat at scale, yet most people don’t know what they are.

‘We are excited to see that another round of the Green Heat Network Fund has been successful, and celebrate the news that a first-in-the-UK development will use waste heat from data centres to keep more than 10,000 homes warm, comfortable and affordable in the long term. We now look forward to seeing the government work with industry to raise the profile of heat networks as a versatile solution for heat decarbonisation.’

 

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