Microsoft data centers will heat homes and offices in Finland
The excess heat generated by Microsoft's new data centers in Finland will be usedto heat homes, shops and offices in the Helsinki metropolitan area. This was announced by the Redmond corporation, which allied itself with Fortum, the energy company that belongs to the Finnish state.
Microsoft plans to build the data centers in question in the southern region of Finland, and they will run entirely on clean energy. What Fortum will do is capture all the waste heat generated from cooling the servers and redirect it to different cities. Specifically, Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi.
The procedure is really striking. According to the Finnish company, the heat obtained from the Microsoft facilities will be distributed through a district heating structure, which consists of more than 900 kilometers of underground pipes, in the form of Hot water.
Microsoft's project in Finland is the largest ever conceived in the world to recycle waste heat generated by data centers. Fortum also assures that the Americans chose the place where they will install the new server structure already thinking about a plan to reuse surplus heat.
Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, was enthusiastic about this initiative. “The decision to invest in a data center that also provides surplus heat to our cities and homes is a win-win. It will speed up Finland's digital growth and make our energy system greener,” she said.
Finland will reuse surplus heat from Microsoft data centers
Photo by Massimo Botturi on Unsplash What Microsoft and Fortum are proposing is a demonstration of how you can try to exploit every possible margin of clean energy available. In the case of the Finnish district heating system, the reuse of waste heat from data centers will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the Helsinki metropolitan area by around 400 thousand tons per year.
It has not yet been reported when the infrastructure of the North American company will start operating in Finland, but there will surely be news in the short term. Once the structure is in operation, 60% of heating in the region will come from renewable energies; and 40% of this will be from data centers and other waste heat sources.
Thus, those directed by Satya Nadella add another initiative to reduce the environmental impact of their data centers. Let's remember that Microsoft is experimenting with a cooling system that consists of submerging its servers; this is done with a fluorocarbon-based liquid that is in a boiling state.
Under this modality, the company's engineers assure that it is possible to lower the energy consumption of any server by 15%. If we consider the beastly magnitude of these hardware structures, without a doubt it is a very important reduction.
Of course, Microsoft isn't the only company working to make its data centers more energy efficient. China has also implemented a plan to build its own undersea server infrastructure; it will be located off the coast of Hainan province, although it could only start operating within the next five years.
Those in charge of the project in the Asian giant want to prove that cold sea water could be key to reducing cooling costs and the impact that data centers have on electrical power networks. It is estimated that 70% of the operating costs of a data center in Chinese territory correspond to the use of electricity.