back to article Datacenter operator groups pledge to cut water consumption

A group of datacenter operators and industry associations has presented the European Commission (EC) with proposals for minimizing water used in their bit barns as part of a broader initiative to reduce environmental impact. The Climate Neutral Datacenter Pact (CNDCP) was created last year and signed up to by datacenter …

  1. NeilPost Silver badge

    Build somewhere else?

    Not building Data-centres in drought ridden areas and using the heat for something would make more sense.

    Heat pumps to maybe heat homes, power industrial processes etc. hello Samsung ??

    Simultaneously consuming water and electricity to cool whilst burning fossil fuels/electricity to heat makes sense.

    Maybe outside an AWS bitbarn, they could have a spa resort like The Blue Lagoon in Iceland?? Monetise it!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Lagoon_(geothermal_spa)

    1. rg287

      Re: Build somewhere else?

      using the heat for something would make more sense.

      Heat pumps to maybe heat homes, power industrial processes etc. hello Samsung ??

      With the largest datacentres, it does make you wonder whether they might reasonably be tied into a district heating scheme as a source of low-grade heat. Domestic heat pumps are space-hogs for the postage-stamps that developers call "houses" these days.

      If we're moving to heat pumps, it makes more sense for new builds to tie into a single central ground-source (or indeed shallow geothermal) facility for the site, which significant facilities like big datacentres could dump heat into. Some ground-source systems in marginal areas also work better if you can regenerate them during summer, meaning they could pump heat back into the ground and continue to provide cooling in summer (otherwise there would be no demand when domestic heat demand drops off).

      Even if full district-heating isn't implemented, there are obvious sinks available - e.g. tying into the swimming pool at local sports centres or schools.

      1. Howard Sway Silver badge

        Re: Build somewhere else?

        Unfortunately they won't be able to heat the water enough for this to be useful - data centre cooling is about taking heat away quickly from the hot chips, not letting the water stay there long enough to reach a high temperature. What's really needed is cooling towers so that most of the water could be reused. But there's currently no economic incentive for this at the moment - they would probably needed to prodded into it by charging large enough amounts for the water to make it economical to do so.

        1. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Re: Build somewhere else?

          But by using a heat pump you can move the heat from a large amount of warm water into a small amount of hot water.

        2. rg287

          Re: Build somewhere else?

          Unfortunately they won't be able to heat the water enough for this to be useful - data centre cooling is about taking heat away quickly from the hot chips, not letting the water stay there long enough to reach a high temperature.

          By low grade heat, I really do mean low-grade - 20-40Celsius. Normal Pool temperatures are ~28C. Underfloor heating wants to be a maximum of 50degrees (unlike radiators which need to be ~60-70).

          This isn't about water-cooling or changing anything in the data halls at all - it's a matter of where the heat exchanger pulling heat out of the data hall dumps to (i.e. not the atmosphere please). The DC cooling could either dump to a load directly, or more likely to a big tank of water as a buffer/store, from which a heat-pump on the other side can draw energy as required for district heating or singular loads (like a swimming pool/leisure centre).

          The heating demand for a small municipal pool can be 250-300MWh/yr.

          A mid-size DC with 1MW IT Load and a PUE of 1.4 can release 3,700MWh thermal per year.

          Whilst this might not be practicable for individual DCs, when you consider that they are often clustered (e.g. the multitude of 2-10MW DCs along Buckingham Avenue in Slough), it is both economically and environmentally criminal to be dumping that much heat to atmosphere instead of pooling it into some form of district heating (there's also at least one public sport centre/swimming pool on that trading estate, within half a mile of the DC cluster!).

        3. rg287

          Re: Build somewhere else?

          As it turns out, this is already happening in Denmark and Sweden. In Odense, the Meta DC gets 27C water from its heat exchangers, pumps it up to 70deg and then sends it to a district heating grid.

          Local planners should be looking much more critically at whether new housing should be built with district heating or individual boilers, and develop opportunities to match industrial users with such projects.

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