Tech Giants’ Data Centers Could Soon Be Warming Your Home

Why should we produce more heat when there is already an excess?

As a result of concerns regarding emissions and dependence on other nations for energy supplies, numerous European nations are turning to exist home heating technologies.

The continent is already home to a large number of data centers operated by some of the world’s largest technology companies, which consume vast amounts of energy to cool down hot computers and servers.

The vast amount of heat generated as a byproduct of our ever-expanding data storage is typically dissipated through the use of air conditioning units or cooling towers, resulting in the heat being wasted. Nonetheless, an increasing number of data centers are utilizing this excess heat to heat homes and buildings.

Data centers for heating

Meta’s Odense data center in Denmark has been recovering excess heat since 2020, and the company hopes to be able to heat the equivalent of 11,000 homes within the next year.

Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have all begun to plan comparable actions, and Alphabet has committed to investigating related opportunities.

Ten Dutch data centers are already connected to district heating systems that distribute excess heat to nearby homes and buildings, and another 15 are in the planning stages.

Utilizing data centers to heat homes offers numerous advantages. It decreases the demand for fossil fuels, which are typically used in Europe to heat homes. There is also the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as data centers are frequently powered by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

In France and Denmark, national and local governments have reportedly implemented tax incentives for the more efficient use of excess heat, and some building permits mandate the recovery of excess heat.

In addition to heating homes, data centers are also used to heat greenhouses, allowing farmers to cultivate crops throughout the year. According to Jeroen Burks, the founder of a Dutch data center (via Wholegrain Digital (opens in new tab)), a 180kW data center could heat up to 5,000m2 of greenhouse space during the winter months, enough to produce 250 metric tonnes of tomatoes.

In Europe, the use of data centers to heat homes and buildings is gaining popularity and is expected to grow in the coming years. It is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to heat homes and other buildings, and it exemplifies the many ways in which technology can be used to address some of the most recent challenges facing the continent and the world.

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