by Linda Bertelsen
Heat Pump center next door to facebook

A new heat pump center next door to Facebook’s data center is an important part of District Heating Funen’s (DHF) plan to phase out coal in 2022. Surplus heat from two Facebook server buildings is connected to a large heat pump system – heating up district heating (DH) water before it is fed back into the DH network.

By Kim Winther, Head of Business Development

DHF and Facebook signed an agreement in 2017 on using surplus heat for approximately 7000 households. This was the beginning of Denmark’s largest and one of the world’s most advanced heat pump systems. The plant was in operation in the spring of this year, and an expansion has already been decided. When increased 45 MW heat pumps, using surplus heat and energy from the air, will heat about 10,000 more households in the future. The total investment will be € 30M.

Since 2014 DHF collaborated with Facebook for utilizing the surplus heat from thousands of servers in the new data center.
DHF has invested 30 million Euro in the new heating plant.

Project manager Kenneth Jensen from DHF shows off the ‘Tietgen Heat Center’ on the opposite side of the road from Facebook.

‘We get surplus heat from Facebook as 27 degrees hot cooling water from their servers. Our nine heat pumps, chill the server building cooling water before sending it back to the servers. He points out a massive blue pipe in the corner of the large room where other pastel-colored pipes of various shades blend with the blue district heating pipe: ‘In the blue pipe, 35-40 degrees return water from the district heating network comes in. The heat pumps bring up the temperature to 75 degrees, using the surplus energy from the servers. And then we send the DH water back to the DH net’. Kenneth Jensen points to a large hall with nine giant heat pumps in a row and says: ‘They upgrade the energy from Facebook’s cooling water to the district heating water’.

Coal represents 30% of the heat in DHF – in two years, it’s zero!

Today, coal represents 30-40 percent of the heat production for the 100,000 households by DHF.

‘The collaboration with Facebook fits super well into our DNA’, says Jan Strømvig. ‘DHF set an ambitious plan to phase out the coal by 2025 but will advance the timeline to 2022, saving the environment almost 400,000 tons of CO2 per year. The Tietgen Heat Central and other heat pump systems utilizing heat from wastewater, electric boilers, bio boilers, large energy stores, and some natural gas are solutions displacing coal in 2022’.

Jan Strømvig, CEO for DHFJan Strømvig, CEO of DHF is excited about the collaboration with Facebook:

‘We are subject to the Heat Supply Act, so we must produce the heating as cheaply as possible for our consumers. We can’t take part in projects if leading to higher prices even though green. But we have an ambition to supply green energy at competitive prices and will always invest in solutions making the heat greener and a little bit cheaper than burning coal”  


Wind power to pumps and servers

The large heat pumps use a lot of electricity to upgrade the surplus heat from the Facebook servers to the DH net, explains Lauren Edelman, an energy consultant from Facebook. ‘This is why Facebook is investing in wind turbines and green power from Norway to operate our data center and the heat pumps here,’ she says. She emphasizes that Odense was chosen because green power was accessible and so was an opportunity to utilize the surplus heat for district heating.

Facebook datacenter Photo Michael BagerFacebook’s data center produces enough surplus heat to heat almost 7000 households in Odense.

Here, Facebook’s Niall McEntegart shows the cooling system on the roof of the data center, where the water cools the air from the servers. The water is diverted to the new plant that DHF has built, benefitting the many district heating customers.

Photo: Michael Bager

For further information please contact: Kim Winther, kw@fjernvarmefyn.dk

Meet the author

Kim Winther
Head of Business Development, Fjernvarme Fyn
“Facebook heating up 7,000 homes in Denmark” was published in Hot Cool, edition no. 2/2020. You can download the article here:
Facebook heating up 7,000 homes in Denmark, Hot Cool article, no. 2, 2020