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March 16, 2022

Datacenter Heat Reuse: How to Transform Your Biggest Loss Into a Gain

Learn more about the potential of heat reuse for datacenters and discover a real life installation with Submer, W.E. District and RISE.


The amount of energy and water consumed by datacenters has been in the spotlight over recent years, with datacenters now responsible for 25.55 million liters of water a year globally, and 1.7 mb of data being produced by each person, every second. While there has been a concrete effort from policy makers and indeed, datacenter companies themselves to reduce their use of natural resources, with immersion cooling adoption at its highest ever rate of adoption. While this is a great step forward for the industry, we are at risk of forgetting or downplaying the impact of another use of energy; excess heat. Currently, datacenters discard 98% of the electricity they use as excess heat

The idea of heat reuse is not brand 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. Despite this, adoption of the technology remains low. This is due to two fundamental issues: temperature and transferability. Currently, waste heat is dissipated from servers at around 28-35 degrees celsius, limiting their re-use to small scale projects or in areas close to the datacenter itself. 

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, the 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. 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 (RI.SE). 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. The project will go live in March and will collect data for a year.

Heat re-use installation in Luleå, Sweden

While there is a way to fully realise the potential of excess heat, the technology is available, Submer’s modular Immersion technology allows for 99% of heat recapture. While PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) is currently a key metric in assessing datacenter efficiency, heat reuse will play a fundamental role in industry targets to achieve net-zero and to have a positive impact on society.

Visit Submer Cools or arrange a meeting with one of our Sales Reps to discuss how our innovative technology could help you turn waste heat into a gain.