DigiPlex, a Nordic data centre supplier and Norway's largest district heating supplier, Fortum Oslo Varme, have signed a letter of intent on the recovery of heat from DigiPlex's data centre at Ulven in Oslo. The agreement contributes to new district heating production corresponding to the energy needs of approximately 5,000 Oslo apartments.
A progressive data centre industry must do what it can to reduce its environmental footprint. Data centres today account for 2% of the world's annual CO2 emissions and 3% of power consumption.
In Oslo, district heating is already sourced by renewable power. Owing to statutory phasing out of fossil energy sources for heating and urban development, demand for district heating is increasing. With Fortum Oslo Varme planning to increase heat production, the company has sought out sources of renewable energy that are suitable for production. Through planned increases in capacity at DigiPlex’ data centre, the volume of recovered heat supplied to the district heating system will increase.
“Every time we go online, stream a TV series or use a cloud service, a process starts in a data centre. We, as individuals, have a larger impact on climate change if these processes are initiated in a data centre operated on non-renewable energy and more so from one where waste heat is released into the atmosphere,” said DigiPlex CEO, Gisle M. Eckhoff.
“At DigiPlex, we are proud to reinforce our leading role in our industry regarding climate change, using renewable power and the waste heat from our data centre at Ulven in Oslo to keep the citizens of Oslo warm. Digitisation must move towards a greener world, and our cooperation with Fortum Oslo Varme is an important step in that direction. From autumn 2019, when end users in Norway browse the web, they will be indirectly contributing to the heating of apartments in Oslo,” continued Eckhoff.
“The district heating system operated by Fortum Oslo Varme is a 60-mile thermal energy distribution system in Oslo and is a great tool for moving energy from areas with excess to where energy is needed. We are very pleased to have signed this agreement with DigiPlex,” said Eirik F. Tandberg, managing director of Fortum Oslo Varme.
“This type of third party delivery into the district heating network benefits both the environment and the city's population. Fortum Oslo Varme is already recovering energy from the sewage of Oslo, and by recovering the surplus heat from data centres, we further increase the share of recovered heat in our production and strengthen Oslo's cycle-based energy system,” continued Tandberg.
District heating is, and will be in the future, an important part of the city's infrastructure. District heating in Oslo covers approximately 20% of today’s city heat demand. With the increasing construction activity in Oslo and the ban on the use of fossil oil for heating, there will be an increased need for renewable sourcing in the years to come.
“By using resources already available, instead of letting them go to waste, we make district heating and energy use in buildings a part of the circular economy. Water-borne heating solutions in buildings are what makes this innovation possible,” Tandberg added.
Oslo Municipality reacts positively to the agreement
Norway is attractive for the establishment of data centres due to access to competitive green power and stable power grids.
“The City Government of Oslo welcomes this agreement. Fortum Oslo Varme will use the heat surplus from the data centre to heat the population of Oslo via the district heating system. The cooperation between Fortum Oslo Varme and DigiPlex is therefore a good example of environmentally friendly industrial development”, says Kjetil Lund (A), vice mayor for Business Development and Public Ownership in Oslo.
Cooling of the data centre
The Letter of Intent also includes delivery of cooling to the DigiPlex facility.
“In addition to using the waste heat from the data centre to produce heat for Oslo, we will deliver cooling to DigiPlex. According to the agreement, Fortum Oslo will establish an energy production unit with associated heat pumps and pipelines on the site of DigiPlex here in Oslo,” said Knut Inderhaug, head of customer at Fortum Oslo Varme.
DigiPlex wishes to set the standard for sustainable solutions in the data centre industry. The company represents the new generation of data centre providers that help enterprises with cost-effective solutions through its innovative and environmentally-friendly facilities. DigiPlex operates its data centres exclusively on renewable power, with its Norway facilities drawing on Norwegian hydropower plants.
“The reuse of waste heat is the next step in our journey towards a more sustainable society and sustainability is at the core of our business’ DNA. Our data centre in Oslo is already energy efficient, but the ability to utilise surplus heat to heat homes and commercial buildings will help customers further reduce their environmental footprint. By working with Fortum Oslo Varme, we are helping to create a more sustainable data center industry that can further contribute to cities and communities,” Eckhoff continued.
“We focus on the reuse of waste heat in all our Nordic markets. In addition to this agreement with Fortum Oslo Varme, we recently announced a heat reuse agreement in Sweden with the district heating company Stockholm Exergi, and in Denmark we also aim to support a sustainable society in similar ways,” concluded Eckhoff.