An innovation that captures heat from data centres and uses it to warm public pools is about to scale up

Now here’s a novel solution for cash-strapped councils: use data centres to heat public swimming pools. 

It’s an idea that’s gaining traction in the UK thanks to the tech firm, Deep Green. It captures excess heat created by its data centres and repurposes it for free in the community.  

“Around 45% of a traditional data centre’s energy demand is just cooling – they produce a lot of heat,” Deep Green’s founder and CEO, Mark Bjornsgaard, told Positive News.

“The method we use to share the heat with swimming pools also cools the computers down. So, the pool gets free heating and Deep Green gets free cooling.” 

The firm has already piloted the idea at Exmouth Leisure Centre in Devon. The washing machine-sized data centre there heats up a reservoir of oil that is then pumped into a heat exchanger to warm the pool. 

Deep Green is now scaling the concept thanks to Octopus Energy, a green energy provider, which this week invested £200m into the project – enough to see around 150 pools heated this way, though Deep Green has not yet released the locations of those pools.

“Demand is there,” said Bjornsgaard. “I think pretty much every pool in the northern hemisphere has got in touch with us.” 

Hot data: the Deep Green installation at Exmouth Leisure Centre in Devon

Some data centres already share excess heat with communities, often via district heating networks. However, Deep Green’s approach is different because rather than having a large data centre housed in single location, as is typical, it splits the data centre into multiple small units, and spreads them throughout the community to share their heat for free. 

While other pools across the UK have been forced to close due to sky-high energy bills, Exmouth’s has been able to heat its pool for free 60% of the time thanks to the data centre. 

The UK government is warming to the idea of recycling heat. Last year, it provided £65m of funding for innovative heating solutions, including one in London that will recycle heat from data centres to warm 10,000 homes and a hospital in the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent and Ealing. 

Lord Callanan, minister for energy efficiency and green finance, said the project was “a glimpse into the future”.

Images: Deep Green

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