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Heat from an Amazon Data Center Is Warming Dublin’s Buildings

By District Energy posted 02-21-2023 12:40


Reasons to Be Cheerful


On January 3, 2023, the 5,000 students who attend Technological University Dublin returned from their winter holiday to their cold suburban campus in Tallaght. At a time of year when the temperature often falls to near freezing, they would have rushed through the revolving door into the toasty, enveloping air of the main building’s glass entrance. 

What few of them probably knew was that the warm air that greeted them came not from a traditional gas or electric boiler like most other buildings in Dublin. It came instead from a large hangar-like warehouse a kilometer down the road, where piping-hot servers stored terabytes of online shopping information: an Amazon data center.

The university, along with the nearby South Dublin County Council building, were the first customers of a new district heating system that became operational in mid-December. When servers in the Amazon data center process information, they emit excess heat that would usually enter the atmosphere as waste. The city’s new heating system instead recovers this heat for reuse, channeling it into buildings as an unusual form of green energy.

District heating systems can repurpose waste heat from facilities other than data centers. Danish energy company Danfoss has installed its heat recovery units in 165 supermarkets across Europe, the majority in Denmark. Its units capture heat emitted by the supermarkets’ refrigerators and redirect it back into the stores’ own heating systems. The company also sells it to local district systems to heat houses, gyms and swimming pools. Supermarket chain Meny, one of Danfoss’s clients, has reduced the net energy bill of one of its stores by 90 percent.

“None of my 55 employees noticed anything,” says store manager Morten Birkebaek. “We have all the hot water we need for cleaning and restrooms, and all the heat we need year-round.”

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#Waste to Energy