Waste heat from computer data centres used for homes

Government funding has been given to warm homes by waste heat from nearby data centres.

The project will see The Old Oak Park Royal development in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham become one of the first to recycle waste heat from large computer systems storing internet data to supply heating for the local community.   

The heat network, backed by £36 million in government support, will connect 10,000 new homes and 250,000m2 of commercial space to a low-carbon energy source.

It is one of five green heating projects in London, Watford, Suffolk and Lancaster allocated grants from the Green Heat Network Fund. Together they are expected to create thousands of skilled jobs.

One of the schemes will see Lancaster University fully decarbonise its campus through more than £21 million in support for a new low-carbon heat network. The heat network will supply heat to the university campus using a large heat pump, powered by a new solar farm and existing wind turbine. 

Heat networks supply heating and hot water through heat pumps or sources from underground, manufacturing, and waste management, cutting carbon emissions by supplying heat to multiple buildings from a central source. Moving to such systems will assist in net zero commitments as heating buildings makes up 30% of UK emissions.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “Innovative projects, like these announced today, are another example of why the UK is a world leader in cutting carbon emissions.  

“We are investing in the technologies of the future so that families across the country will now be able to warm their homes with low-carbon, recycled heat – while creating thousands of new skilled jobs.”   

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “Keeping homes warm with waste heat from technology is a glimpse into the future – and demonstrates just how innovative this country can be when it comes to reducing our carbon emissions.  

“The £65 million we’ve awarded today will help spread this success across the country, by rolling out innovative low-carbon heating to help to drive down energy bills and deliver our net zero goal.”  

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.  

David Lunts, Chief Executive of the Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), 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.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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