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On the Highway Towards Carbon Neutrality: Data Centre Waste Heat Recovery

Investments, News

Finland’s carbon neutrality target for 2035 is ambitious. There is no single way to achieve this target since combating climate change requires action from all sectors of society. The Valtatie 30 property, located at Hatanpään valtatie 30, Tampere, is contributing to the fight against climate change by implementing a large-scale thermal energy project that has been planned for some time.
Nokia, one of the property’s data centre tenants, has set a goal to halve its 2019 emission level by 2030 and be climate neutral in 2040. Nokia has invested in its Tampere office and is currently developing the Nokia R&D vLab data centre in the property – meaning that the need for power will increase significantly in the future.

In 2016 district cooling was introduced in the Valtatie 30 building produced by the local utility Tampereen sähkölaitos. In 2021 the collaboration has deepened and a model to sell waste heat form the data center into to the open district heating network has been developed. At the time of the negotiations Nokia and the property owner had already been developing a capital light expansion model for Nokia made possible by the property owner investing in cooling technology and power transmission to which a district heating heat pump was added to be able to provide carbon neutral heating to the city of Tampere.

Heat pumps play a key role
With the Oilon industrial heat pumps made in Finland to be installed at Valtatie 30, it will be possible to process the waste heat energy from low-temperature data centres so that it is suitable for use in a district heating network – up to a temperature of more than 95°C. One essential part of the new project involving a heat pump is the renewal of the cooling principle of server cabinets in the data centres, which will make it possible to raise the temperature of the cooling water of the servers. This renewal will also enhance heat pump function and improve pumping efficiency.
The heat output of the Valtatie 30 heat pump system is significant, which is why Tampereen Sähkölaitos is building a new district heating connection pipe from the property to the larger trunk line in Lempääläntie main road. In this way, the thermal energy produced at Valtatie 30 is made available to all customers in the district heating network. In the initial phase, the thermal energy produced will be approximately 42 GWh annually, which covers the annual heating energy needs of more than 2,500 detached houses, i.e. approximately 15% of the total number of detached houses in Tampere. When the thermal power is increased according to current plans by 2025, a total of approximately 85 GWh of thermal energy will be produced for the needs of other customers. The total carbon offset in 2025 will be 7.000 tonnes of CO2 removed yearly.

Joint climate efforts and a win-win situation
To make optimal use of the possibilities of the heating network, cooling and heat pumps, the property owner will invest in heat pump technology, which will be used to process the waste heat generated in the property for distribution to other customers via the district heating network. The amount of energy fed into the district heating network is significant for the utility, and therefore part of its efforts against climate change. The cooperation with the Valtatie 30 property is one of the most significant measures to increase combustion-free district heating. Nokia in turn gets a benchmark green data center to continue to expand in.