Waste Heat as Revenue

21 January 2015 saw Fortum Värme host an international conference in Kista, Stockholm on the theme of heat recovery from data centres.

Fortum Värme is the first company in the world to offer a marketplace for waste heat, something which has led to huge international interest from both the delegates and the speakers invited to hold presentations. The speakers included Dr Nicolas Dubé from HP, Kevin Slover, Director of Data Centre Global Property Selection, LLC and Karin Wanngård, the Mayor of Stockholm.

Stockholm is leading the way

Fortum Värme’s Open District Heating concept, which among other things allows data centres to sell their surplus heat at the market price, makes Stockholm a unique place to base a business. The company is now aiming to attract more data centres to set up shop in Stockholm so that the surplus heat they generate can actually be used by people rather than simply being extracted by fans.

Fortum Värme’s CEO Anders Egelrud was at the conference and one of the things he emphasised was Stockholm’s competitive edge.

“Open District Heating is interesting from more than just an economic and sustainability perspective because it gives Stockholm a head start over other cities in the competition for data centres. This competitive advantage provides great potential for the city’s growth and for the Kista district in particular to assume the leading position as Europe’s main hub for information and communication technology companies,”
said Anders Egelrud, CEO of Fortum Värme.

One of the speakers, Nicolas Dubé, declared there is a need for more sustainable operations, as well as expressing his hope that more data centres will establish operations in cities like Stockholm.

“Every data centre in the world uses as much energy as the whole of Germany in a single year. With that trend in mind, it’s obvious that operations need to be more sustainable. Locating data centres in cities with a district heating system that can take care of the surplus heat is an advantage in our eyes. My hope is that more data centres will establish operations in cities like Stockholm, which already has an extensive district heating system. By doing so, we can help to reduce carbon emissions,”
said Nicolas Dubé, speaking from the conference in Kista.

The main reason for the interest is the profitability that data centres can generate by selling their waste heat. For many data centres this means heat worth millions of kronor that can now be sold rather than discarded. What’s more, there is also great interest in reducing their environmental impact and contributing to a more sustainable society. The heat from existing data centres in Stockholm alone could provide heating for 60,000 flats if they were connected to the Open District Heating system.