Cooperation with Fortum is a model example of utilizing waste heat in data centers

The 12,000–15,000 megawatt hours of waste heat produced by the data center in Kirkkonummi is no longer waste. The energy is now conserved in the data center’s water cooling system and then transferred to Kirkkonummi and Espoo’s district heating network via heat pumps.

“Initially, the project was meant to increase the cooling capacity of the data center and to utilize the excess heat locally”, says Petteri Hajanti, HVAC Group Manager from Granlund’s Mission Critical, a unit that specializes in data centers.

“However, this would have been beneficial only during the winter months. As a whole, the data center’s cooperation with Fortum was the best option. The data center receives the cooling energy it needs and Fortum a production unit for environmentally friendly district heating.”

The common aim was a sustainable solution

Granlund was in charge of mapping the benefits and financial details of each alternative solution for both parties in an unbiased way. Additionally, Granlund was responsible for designing the facility for the heat pumps and the building systems, site supervision and final testing.

“The project was executed simultaneously and in a very open manner, as we had hoped,” says Ilkka Möttönen from Fortum’s Asset Management. “We also benefitted from the fact that Granlund was already very well informed about the operating environment and heat pump applications of data centers.”

Solutions based on heat pumps are a good fit with Fortum’s vision.

“We want to encourage similar projects in the future as well and further develop our district heating systems by increasing waste heat recovery and decentralizing production, for example. The biggest challenge for this is the amount of heat sources, their size and their location in relation to our district heating network. This time everything was good to go!”

Green values in an energy intensive industry?

The data center industry is growing fast. Granlund actively seeks to develop solutions that will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of data centers.

“Data centers consumed around 400 terawatt hours of electrical energy in 2015, which is about 2–3% of all of the world’s energy consumption,” says Hajanti. “As a matter of fact, the environmental impact of data centers is equal to that caused by the air traffic industry.”

Reducing the carbon footprint of a data center requires utilizing renewable energy and heat recovery.

“The cooperation between Fortum and the data center is a prime example of the steps we can take toward a carbon neutral or even environmentally friendly data center,” says Hajanti. “Recovering waste heat from the data center reduces the carbon dioxide emissions of Fortum’s district heat production by over 3000 tons per year.”

Granlund will participate in the Nordic Digital Business Summit on 5 October 2017 and is a sponsor of the event. Come meet the experts at stand B4 and hear more about what’s new in the industry!