Surplus heat from data centre to heat thousands of Oslo homes

Date: 20/08/2018

DigiPlex, a leading data center supplier, and Norway’s largest district heating supplier, Fortum Oslo Varme, have signed a letter of intent on the recovery of heat from DigiPlex’s data center at Ulven in Oslo. The agreement contributes to new district heating production corresponding to the energy needs of approximately 5,000 Oslo apartments.

A progressive data center industry must do what it can to reduce its environmental footprint. Data centers today account for two percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions and three percent of power consumption. In Oslo, district heating is already sourced by renewable power. Owing to statutory phasing out of fossil energy sources for heating and urban development, demand for district heating is increasing. With Fortum Oslo Varme planning to increase heat production, the company has sought out sources of renewable energy that are suitable for production. Through planned increases in capacity at DigiPlex’ data center, the volume of recovered heat supplied to the district heating system will increase.

“Every time we go online, stream a TV series or use a cloud service, a process starts in a data center. We, as individuals, have a larger impact on climate change if these processes are initiated in a data center operated on non-renewable energy and more so from one where waste heat is released into the atmosphere,” says CEO of DigiPlex, Gisle M. Eckhoff.

“At DigiPlex, we are proud to reinforce our leading role in our industry regarding climate change, using renewable power and the waste heat from our data center at Ulven in Oslo to keep the citizens of Oslo warm. Digitization must move towards a greener world, and our cooperation with Fortum Oslo Varme is an important step in that direction. From autumn 2019, when end users in Norway browse the web, they will be indirectly contributing to the heating of apartments in Oslo,” continues Gisle M. Eckhoff.

“The district heating system operated by Fortum Oslo Varme is a 60-mile thermal energy distribution system in Oslo and is a great tool for moving energy from areas with excess to where energy is needed. We are very pleased to have signed this agreement with DigiPlex,” says Eirik F. Tandberg, Managing Director of Fortum Oslo Varme.

“This type of third party delivery into the district heating network benefits both the environment and the city’s population. Fortum Oslo Varme is already recovering energy from the sewage of Oslo, and by recovering the surplus heat from data centers, we further increase the share of recovered heat in our production and strengthen Oslo’s cycle-based energy system,” continues Tandberg.

District heating is, and will be in the future, an important part of the city’s infrastructure. District heating in Oslo covers approximately 20 percent of today’s city heat demand. With the increasing construction activity in Oslo and the ban on the use of fossil oil for heating, there will be an increased need for renewable sourcing in the years to come.

“By using resources already available, instead of letting them go to waste, we make district heating and energy use in buildings a part of the circular economy. Water-borne heating solutions in buildings are what makes this innovation possible,” Tandberg added.

Oslo Municipality reacts positively to the agreement

Norway is attractive for the establishment of data centers due to access to competitive green power and stable power grids.

“The City Government of Oslo welcomes this agreement. Fortum Oslo Varme will use the heat surplus from the data center to heat the population of Oslo via the district heating system. The cooperation between Fortum Oslo Varme and DigiPlex is therefore a good example of environmentally friendly industrial development”, says Kjetil Lund (A), Vice Mayor for Business Development and Public Ownership in Oslo. “We focus on the reuse of waste heat in all our Nordic markets. In addition to this agreement with Fortum Oslo Varme, we recently announced a heat reuse agreement in Sweden with the district heating company Stockholm Exergi, and in Denmark we also aim to support a sustainable society in similar ways,” concludes Eckhoff.