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Opportunities for combined heating and cooling using data centres
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Opportunities for combined heating and cooling using data centres

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Session 11 Paper 1, University College London, 16-17 April 2015

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Data centres transmit, process and store information exchanged over the internet. It has been estimated that there are approximately 2 million server racks in the UK, distributed across a large number of data centres ranging in size from a few tens of kW to more than 100 MW. Together they currently consume 2-3% of the entire electricity supply of the UK and consequently are responsible for significant CO2 equivalent emissions, and this is projected to increase by fourfold, by 2020. To meet the energy needs of future data centres, radical improvements in energy efficiency will be needed, together with new energy demand reduction strategies. A significant proportion of the energy going into data centres is associated with the cooling of the computer servers.

This paper describes the approaches that are being proposed to reduce energy consumption of cooling systems. The paper also describes the opportunity for the reuse of waste heat from the data centre servers in a range of applications. Data centres have been recently cited by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) as a source for district heating schemes, at the same time as delivering cooling for the computer servers. This paper describes different methods of recovering heat from data centres as well as evaluating the potential energy and carbon that can be saved.