The amount of energy and water consumed by datacenters has been in the spotlight over recent years, and for good reason; datacenters are currently responsible for the annual use of 25.5 million liters of water around the globe. It’s true that there has been a concrete effort from policymakers and datacenter companies themselves to reduce their use of natural resources, especially with immersion cooling adoption which is at its highest ever rate of adoption. However, while this is a great step forward for the industry, we still run the risk of downplaying the impact of another use of energy: excess heat. At the moment, datacenters are discarding 98% of the electricity they use as excess heat.
The idea of heat reuse is nothing new; in fact, datacenters have been exploring the idea of repurposing waste heat from its servers for several years, with big names like Amazon, Facebook and IBM all successfully implementing schemes to recycle heat. In spite of this, adoption of the technology remains low and this comes down to two fundamental issues: temperature and transferability. Since excess heat is currently dissipated from servers at around 28-35 degrees celsius, the options to reuse the waste heat is limited to small scale projects or those in areas close to the datacenter itself.
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, waste heat may also be a potential avenue of profit for datacenters. Research shows that by recapturing the heat, datacenters have the chance to monetise what previously would have been wasted. The amount that datacenters can make of course, depends on their size. However, there are strong use cases in Germany, and the Netherlands and, by 2035, datacenters are projected to provide up to 1/10 of the city’s total heating requirements.
Heat reuse is a crucial aspect of Submer’s current and future roadmap. In light of this, Submer has provided its modular immersion cooling pods for W.E. District, a coalition of 9 European companies that aims to demonstrate that district heating can be built using renewable energy sources and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE). The project will capture the heat generated by a datacenter in Luleå and repurpose it for the local district heating in the area while generated electricity will be used to power the datacenter itself. The project is the first of its kind for Submer and in the region and is planned to go live in March with the subsequent data collection continuing for a year.
In conclusion, there is a way to take full advantage of the potential of excess heat. Our modular immersion cooling technology, for instance, allows for 99% of heat recapture and we are confident that heat reuse will play a fundamental role in industry targets to achieve net-zero energy emissions and to have a positive impact on society overall.
Be sure to visit Submer Cools or arrange a meeting with one our experts below to discuss how our innovative technology could help you turn waste heat into a gain!