Warming Up to Efficiency: Understanding the Potential Benefits and Pitfalls of Data Centre Heat Export in the UK

Access our report examining the potential benefits and challenges of data centre heat export in the UK. 

As the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) prepares to introduce a regulatory framework for heat networks to enable heat network zoning in towns and cities across England, we delve into the potential benefits and pitfalls of using data centres as heat sources.  

The utilisation of data centre heat for district heating networks in the UK holds significant promise, particularly when viewed from sustainability and corporate social responsibility standpoints. Embracing a circular economy model, data centres can redirect surplus residual heat to local heat networks, optimising resource utilisation. This not only aligns with environmental goals but also addresses fuel poverty by providing cost-effective heating to communities in need. 

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This techUK report underscores the industry's eagerness to actively contribute to heat networks, showcasing members’ success stories and highlighting ongoing initiatives.  

It also entails an in-depth exploration of the practical challenges related to exporting data centre heat that must be addressed to ensure effective and sustainable integration. This includes addressing issues associated with seasonal changes, infrastructure proximity, varying occupancy levels, emerging technology, and potentially counterproductive sustainability outcomes.  

The report was submitted alongside our response to the government’s consultation on the proposals for heat network zoning in England.  

 

We are delighted to publish this new report on data centre heat export which, if done well, has huge potential to reduce energy use, carbon emissions, and costs for local homes and businesses. This new report showcases best practices and offers practical guidance for developing and implementing data centre heat export while not shying away from the barriers that are preventing widespread adoption.

Craig Melson, Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability

techUK

Residual heat energy reuse isn't just efficient from a circular energy perspective — where appropriate, it's a way for data centres to give back to the communities where they operate, creating a sustainable cycle of energy and goodwill. As the backbone of our digital economy, data centres have the potential to play a crucial role in securing a greener future for all.

Dave Smith, Director, Sustainability and Operational Risk

Digital Realty

techUK will continue collaborating with the government, local authorities, regulators and other stakeholders to create a suitable framework that would enable data centres to seamlessly contribute to heat networks, ultimately facilitating the provision of green and affordable heating to communities. 


Warming Up to Efficiency: A Cross-Industry Panel on Data Centre Heat Export

Join us for a thought-provoking event that delves into the intersection of digital infrastructure and cleaner, greener heat to warm communities. 

Register now to attend our hybrid panel discussion on 19 March at 4 PM, sponsored by Equinix, where experts will explore how diverse industries can work together to tackle challenges related to data centre heat export. The event will be followed by a networking mixer.


For more information please contact: 

Weronika Dorociak

Weronika Dorociak

Programme Manager, Sustainability , techUK

Weronika joined techUK as a Programme Manager for Sustainability in October 2023.

Her role involves advocating for the tech sector in front of key policymakers and stakeholders. Weronika also leads the environmental and sustainability efforts within the Data Centres Group.

Prior to joining techUK, Weronika worked in public affairs and government relations in the legal sector, focusing on innovation and ESG within financial services. She also spent 2 years working as a Caseworker at Parliament. She holds a BA in Politics & International Relations from Queen Mary University of London.

Outside of work, Weronika can be found on a tennis court, at the gym, practicing yoga, or indulging in her love for Taylor Swift's music as a dedicated Swiftie.

Email:
[email protected]
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/weronikaedorociak/

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Luisa C. Cardani

Luisa C. Cardani

Head of Data Centres Programme, techUK

Luisa C. Cardani is the Head of the Data Centres Programme at techUK, aiming to provide a collective voice for UK operators and working with government to improve business environment for the data centres sector.

Prior to joining techUK, Luisa worked in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the Head of International Data Protection, where she led on the development of elements of the UK's data protection and privacy policy. In her role, she was also the UK official representative for the EOCD Privacy Guidelines Informal Advisory Group.

She has held a number of position in government, including leading on cross-cutting data provisions in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and in high priority cross-departmental projects when working in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

She holds an M.Sc. from University College London's Department of Political Sciences.

Email:
[email protected]
Phone:
07587 210 799
Website:
www.techUK.org
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisacardani

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Visit our Climate Action Hub to learn more or to register for regular updates.

By 2030, digital technology can cut global emissions by 15%. Cloud computing, 5G, AI and IoT have the potential to support dramatic reductions in carbon emissions in sectors such as transport, agriculture, and manufacturing. techUK is working to foster the right policy framework and leadership so we can all play our part. For more information on how techUK can support you, please visit our Climate Action Hub and click ‘contact us’.

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Contact the team

Weronika Dorociak

Weronika Dorociak

Programme Manager, Sustainability , techUK

Craig Melson

Craig Melson

Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability, techUK

Mia Haffety

Mia Haffety

Programme Manager - Telecoms and Net Zero, techUK

Lucas Banach

Lucas Banach

Programme Assistant, Data Centres, Climate, Environment and Sustainability, Market Access, techUK

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