Facebook to Recycle Data Center Heat

Facebook has announced that it will begin recycling heat generated from its data centers. The residual heat will be used to warm nearby homes.

The social media giant says its stable of servers in Odense, Denmark will connect to a neighborhood district heating system. The company expects the heat will warm 6,900 homes in the area.

As datacenterfronteir.com reports, “Heat recycling also positions data centers as beneficial neighbors, which could help counter growing tensions about data centers’ impact on their communities. This has become an issue in U.S. data center projects that require expanded energy capacity, either through on-site generation or new high-capacity transmission lines.”

Heat recycling is not an entirely new phenomenon, however. Retailer H&M has been doing it since 2013. And in July, the company announced it will build a new data center in Stockholm with cooling and heat recovery integrated from the start. Energy company Fortum Värme will reuse the data center excess heat by distributing it to customers throughout the city. The new H&M data center is designed to handle an IT load of 1 MW and can heat some 2,500 modern residential apartments at full load.

Amazon is also getting in on the recycled heat. In Seattle, the company’s newest office buildings in the Denny Triangle area are recycling heat energy from servers housed in data centers within the nearby Westin Building. According to the website, server exhaust heat will be recycled through underground water pipes instead of being vented into the atmosphere. Amazon says the system will heat nearly 3 million square feet of office space. The company says this approach is nearly four times more efficient than traditional heating methods and will also enable the Westin Building data center to cut back on the energy it uses to cool its building.

Companies have been focusing on making their energy-intensive data centers more sustainable. Last month, Apple announced it would open a new data center in Iowa that will be powered entirely by renewable energy. And Microsoft is currently testing ways to use underwater data centers, an idea that would introduce a new power source (waves) and greatly reduce cooling costs.

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