Using a cloud (server) for free hot water!

Blog Post by Luc Sidebotham 23 November 2014

Some interesting approaches to regulating server room temperatures.

Anyone who’s ever found themselves in a server room at work knows how much heat just a few servers (internet data boxes) can produce. With the world becoming ever more reliant on the internet, excess heat produced at datacentres (server warehouses) has become an issue that’s leading to the development of some innovative solutions.

Server Room

The amount of digital information being generated, stored and processed is increasing at an exponential rate with global digital content doubling every two years. Information and communication technologies already consume 10% of the world’s electricity: datacentres (and keeping them cool) account for a significant proportion of this energy cost.

Some interesting solutions

Some companies, including Google and Facebook, have set up datacentres close to the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia, lured by the fast fibre-optic networks, abundant renewable energy and cold temperatures to help keep the servers cool. In Norway one datacentre company has gone a step further by taking over a former NATO ammunition store, housing servers in subterranean caves cooled by a nearby fjord!


A different kind of innovation in server hosting, coming just in time for winter, is from a German company who, taking advantage of advances in cloud computing, are now offering to store their cloud server units in homes and offices to provide free heating!

Cloud&Heat customers pay to have a fire-proof server cabinet installed in their home or office, with installation costing about the same as a conventional heating system. Cloud&Heat pays the internet connection and electricity bills to keep the servers running and the home or office takes advantage of free hot water and room heating.

Excess heat in the system is diverted to a hot water buffering tank and in spring and summer the heat is vented outside to keep temperatures comfortable. The cloud servers themselves require very little maintenance.  As all data is encrypted and only Cloud&Heat employees can open the cabinets, the company’s data customers have essentially the same level of security as if the servers were hosted in a regular datacentre.

This kind of creative fix to the growing problem of ICT energy demand could offer real opportunities for companies that can develop workable solutions. And whilst storing a data company’s server cabinets won’t be up everyone’s street, it will definitely have its advocates, especially in winter!


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