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410 kton CO2 savings possible with residual heat from data centres

Published on 14 November 2018

Residual heat from data centres can play an important role in CO2 reduction in the built environment. 410 kton in CO2 reduction is possible. That is 12% of the Climate Round Table Built Environment challenge. These were the findings of precise research conducted by Berenschot and IF Technology.

The researchers made an inventory of the 114 biggest commercial data centres in the Netherlands and promising heat demand nearby. RVO.nl commissioned the inventory. Sector organisations, the Dutch Data Center association and Nederland ICT also collaborated.

Climate Round Table Built Environment

3.4 billion kilograms less CO2 by 2030; that is the Climate Round Table Built Environment challenge. And by 2050 we want hardly any CO2 emissions at all. To achieve the climate objectives, almost all buildings in the Netherlands need to be modified. In formulating regional energy strategies, it is relevant to include residual heat from data centres as an option.

Growing heat potential

The heat potential of data centres will grow through further digitisation. “Data centres now almost entirely use sustainable electricity; by using residual heat this sustainable energy can be used twice”, stated Stijn Grove, Director of the Dutch Data Center Association. And conversely, data centres benefit from the returned cool air from the built environment. Grove: “The application is suitable for the sustainability of every heat network. The strict requirements that apply to IT security of supply means that the heat supply is extremely reliable”.

Large-scale pilots

Heat exchange projects have already been realised successfully, but just not on such a large scale. “The challenge is to improve the conditions and press ahead to more large-scale projects,” said Jeroen van der Tang, Public Policy Manager Sustainability at Nederland ICT. “This will enable the IT sector to make considerable contributions to the Built Environment challenge.” The Berenschot and IF Technology inventory has incorporated concrete recommendations for this.

Data centres on the opportunity heat map

Over 50% of the residual heat from data centres is economically viable. This is because they are in the vicinity of the built environment. The proximity reduces the costs of the heat network infrastructure. RVO.nl is placing the data centres from the inventory on the opportunity heat map. In this way, planners can see at a glance where residual heat from data centres can be an interesting option.


Michiel van Werven

Michiel van Werven

Senior managing consultant

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