Redistribute excess data centre heat

A Ramboll-designed energy centre is redistributing excess heat from Meta’s data centre in Odense to the city’s district heating network. Data centres produce large amounts of excess heat, which today is largely wasted but could play a vital role in the green transition contribute to the data centre industry’s sustainability.

Data centres produce large amounts of excess heat, which today is largely wasted. Currently, Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Apple and Microsoft are operating and/or planning or constructing centres in Denmark. Redistribution of excess heat from these centres to the district energy system would play a vital role in the green transition and can contribute to the data centre industry’s sustainability.
With the ambition to phase out its coal-fired plant by 2025, Denmark’s third largest district heating company, Fjernvarme Fyn, has established Denmark’s biggest heat pump plant to recover 175,000 MWh of energy from Meta’s hyperscale Tietgenbyen data centre and redistribute the excess heat to the district heating network of the city of Odense. The project, called Tietgenbyen Energy Centre, will provide heat to more than 12,000 homes (in 2023), reduces the city’s reliance on coal power, and supports Fjernvarme Fyn’s further goal of providing 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Fjernvarme Fyn appointed Ramboll as Owner’s Engineer to do the design of the heat pump installation and energy centre, handle related tender processes and manage construction and building contract work. Furthermore, Ramboll developed the operation strategy for the excess heat recovery system and executed design and strength calculations of the chilled water pipe network.
Ground-breaking technology
A water-based above- and below-ground piping circuit transfers excess heat from heat exchangers in the data centre to the adjacent heat pump installation. Here, large electrically driven ammonia heat pumps raise the heat temperature to 70-75°C, suitable for the city’s district heating network. Distribution pumps supply the recovered heat to the network.
The heat pump installation is the largest to date in Denmark, and the largest heat pump installation for at hyperscale data centre in the world. It recovers excess data centre heat at an unprecedented scale. The total heat production is approximately 45 MW, which goes directly into the district heating network in Odense. A full-scale visitor centre is displaying the ground-breaking technology applied. Tietgenbyen Energy Centre was ready for operation in late 2019 and already in 2020, Fjernvarme Fyn started planning for an expansion of the system. This is now almost complete.
Facts about utilisation of excess heat from data centres :
  • Data centres can deliver large amounts of excess heat if they are connected to the district heating network. The heat has a relatively low temperature, which has to be raised by a heat pump before it can be used for heating purposes.
  • For it to be a good business case to utilise the excess heat from data centres, they have to be located close to a district heating network. The bigger the data centre, the farther the energy can be transported.
  • The European Commission suggests that all data centres of more than 1 MW should perform a cost benefit analysis to investigate whether the excess heat can be used in the district heating supply.
  • According to the Danish Data Center Industry, 63 percent of data centres are planning to utilise their excess heat in the near future.

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  • John Ammentorp

    John Ammentorp

    Vice Director, Power Systems

    +45 51 61 63 80

  • Anna Ekdahl

    Anna Ekdahl

    Director, Energy Intensive industries

    +45 51 61 37 41