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New Data Center Will Heat Homes In London

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the one-click-heating dept.

Earth 204

1sockchuck writes "The heat generated by thousands of servers at the new Telehouse West data center in London will soon be used to heat nearby houses and businesses. The Greater London Authority has approved a plan in which waste heat from the colocation facility will be used in a district heat network for the local Docklands community. The project is expected to produce up to nine megawatts of power for the local community."

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Hey now, control yourself... (4, Funny)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594177)

The Final Sentence of TFA: "The GLA (Greater London Authority) said that the agreed solution represents the best possible outcome within the specific constraints of the scheme and accords with the objectives of London Plan policy 4A.6."

You know, lavishing praise on a project like that is going to make all the other projects jealous.

Re:Hey now, control yourself... (-1, Redundant)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594433)

Taxi 2.0 is Complete Government Knowledge of your taxi travel-log. Oh, did I mention that 'the Government' is just another word for 'the Banker'? Politicians are just the public relations unit. The judicial system? The grease that makes the intersections work. The police are just the ones that make sure you get home safe. Sometimes the Taxi is dangerous.

Re:Hey now, control yourself... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27595477)

Pffft, anyone can meet the objectives of 4A.6. Personally I'm shooting for the objectives of London Plan policy 4A.7!

The best part? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594179)

It'll work all year round! You'll never feel cold in July ever again, and you may not even need to use your oven to make a roast.

Re:The best part? (-1, Offtopic)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594279)

Somebody please mod parent funny :).

Re:The best part? (3, Insightful)

CityZen (464761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594357)

Seriously, though, what will they do with the excess heat in summer time?

Re:The best part? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594391)

Probably cut down on summer time instead of removing the excess heat.

Re:The best part? (5, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594437)

We're going to see a big rise in nerdy homeowners creating homebrew stirling engines [wikipedia.org] to convert the heat back into power, so as to power their desk fans ;).

Re:The best part? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594471)

Vent it outside? You know, like is done with every other air conditioning system in the world.

Re:The best part? (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594555)

Seriously, though, what will they do with the excess heat in summer time?

This is the UK we are talking about. They don't really have a summer.

Humdity (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595075)

I'm an Aussie living in Melbourne so I get the joke. Occasionaly we get a news report of a London heat wave with a few days around 30degC, old people are dropping dead and young people are splashing around half naked in city fountains. It seem bizzare since a hot day here is 10-15degC hotter and we don't have dramas with old people until it gets around 40 or above.

A few years back I went on my first trip to the UK (at the end of July) we had a 3 day stop over in Hong Kong on the way. Hong Kong was as unbearable as Darwin is in the wet season, 30-35 deg, no breeze and near 100% humidity. As we were approaching London the pilot announced the temprature in London had just broken it's record maximum temp ( 32degC IIRC ). The wife and I snickered at each other...the english have no idea what hot is... We stopped snickering as soon we walked out of the airport and hit a wall of warm humid air that was exactly like Hong Kong or Darwin, the only weather difference between the three places was the pollution levels.

Of course the reason for the discomfort [ec.gc.ca] is high humidity from the massive ocean currents that bring warm water from the Gulf of Mexico.

Re:Humdity (2, Informative)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595289)

London homes are also far less likely to be equipped with air conditioning than homes in Hong Kong or Australia, which is another reason for the discomfort.

Re:Humdity (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595419)

...and the difference in death tolls. The warm weather followed us to N scotland. The pubs are built of stone with meter thick walls and low heavy ceilings, they were like an oven when full of people.

Re:The best part? (4, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595379)

Yesterday's high was 22C. Predicted high for today is only 16C.

I'm happy with a summer that means I can sit around outside without feeling uncomfortable, do some moderate exercise (eg play a sport) outside and not die, and have a home I can cool to a comfortable temperature for 95%+ of the time just by opening the windows.

You just run the house heating at 40 celcius (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594985)

Problem solved.

Or maybe they could do what they do just now; pump it directly into the atmosphere.

 

Re:The best part? (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595455)

People still want hot water...

Besides, this is British summer we're talking about here so what does 1 week matter compared to the 51 cold and wet weeks in a year? ;-)

Re:The best part? (4, Funny)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594435)

They have summer in London now?

Re:The best part? (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595069)

Some years we do. We tend to celebrate with a hosepipe ban.

I think there may have been 3 or more days of sun in August 2005.

Re:The best part? (4, Interesting)

shri (17709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594683)

What happens if the next generation of servers run 10 Degrees cooler?

Re:The best part? (2, Insightful)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594855)

If servers become X% more efficient, why the simple solution is add X% more servers.

Re:The best part? (1)

entgod (998805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595181)

Because they might not need them or have room for them? You don't go off buying 10% more milk when it's 10% cheaper, you save money.

I guess the homes that would be heated will already have some sort of heating, maybe they will use that to compliment getting less data center heat.

Re:The best part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27595483)

You might very well buy 10% more milk, and start making ice cream or yogurt (good match for extra heat)

Re:The best part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594861)

If anything, they're getting hotter.

Re:The best part? (2, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594705)

It'll work all year round! You'll never feel cold in July ever again, and you may not even need to use your oven to make a roast.

Well, this is from the country that invented the "AGA", which is some kind of hybrid kitchen range/oven/furnace that burns fuel 24x7x365, and which has no temperature adjustment. I guess their theory is that they live in a chilly climate.

Re:The best part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594839)

It was developed in the mid 1800's, so it was hardly during a time when eco-friendliness was a consideration.

Re:The best part? (1)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595285)

But they are still gosh darned tootingly popular.

Re:The best part? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594899)

Well, it was actuelly a Swede who invented the AGA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGA_cooker

Re:The best part? (2, Interesting)

master811 (874700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594957)

No they don't all burn fuel 24x7, the electric ones can use off-peak electricity (which is generally considerably cheaper) and so store the heat for use during the day (and only draw extra if they need to).

The heat given off by the AGA also saves the kitchen from needing separate heating (and more so depending on the size of the house).

Re:The best part? (1)

Joren (312641) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594903)

I highly doubt they will be transporting the heat directly. The article says the heat will be generating 9 megawatts, so I gather they are converting the excess heat to electricity and adding it to the grid; it will be used however the grid distributes it. In winter, heat. In summer, A/C. And lights, TV, ovens, computers...

Re:The best part? (1)

Captain Nitpick (16515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595015)

I highly doubt they will be transporting the heat directly.

The article says "district heat [wikipedia.org] ". That means they are transporting the heat directly as a utility. It's a somewhat common setup in much of Europe.

Re:The best part? (2, Interesting)

ommerson (1485487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595123)

Would it ever happen in the US? District heat is surely tantamount to communism?

It's interesting to note that district heat was a quite common at one time in the UK - especially on large local authority housing developments. It fell out of favour in a big way in the 70s and 80s because it wasn't controllable and was seemed to be expensive.
In many cases, the schemes were ripped out and replaced with individual gas boilers in each apartment.

Seems we're coming full circle.

Re:The best part? (1)

Joren (312641) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595309)

I highly doubt they will be transporting the heat directly.

The article says "district heat [wikipedia.org] ". That means they are transporting the heat directly as a utility. It's a somewhat common setup in much of Europe.

Oh really? Wow. I'd never heard of that before; thanks for telling me. What does the 9 megawatts statistic mean then? What is that measuring?

Re:The best part? (1)

erlando (88533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595461)

watt is joules per second. It's a unit of energy. Heat is energy.

The heat will be "low grade" (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595101)

so I gather they are converting the excess heat to electricity

No. AC heat is "low grade". That is it's a few degrees above ambient so it'd be wildly inefficient to try to generate electricity from it. Heat can be measured in Watts just as electricity can.

e.g.
A typical 1gW nuclear power station will produce about 2gW of heat for each 1gW of electricity (35% efficiency or so). This is "waste" heat, though of course, it could be used to power adsorption chillers or used for industrial processes or domestic space and water heating, usually it's pumped directly into an ocean or river. Our power infrastructure is highly inefficient, about 60% at the best power stations. Of the approx 40% of total energy which does get turned into electricity, most of this is used for stuff like Air Conditioning, which is simply heat management. Refrigeration, which is heat management. Space heating, which is heat management.

We spend a lot of our time and money simply moving heat around (which is what they're doing in the article) [wikipedia.org] . This would be less of a problem if we were better at insulating things, there's actually no reason that the nearby houses should even need this heat, it's simply poor design [wikipedia.org] .
 

Brrr (4, Funny)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594193)

Cold here. Going to turn up the thermostat with some chess online.

Re:Brrr (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594253)

>Cold here.

Frosty piss!

Re:Brrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594823)

It's getting chilly in here, browsing more porn would heat things up a bit.

Great idea (5, Interesting)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594243)

It's how we used to heat the offices neighboring our server room (and I'm sure many many people did it before I did). Glad to see them using it on a larger scale to save a bit of dosh.

Re:Great idea (2, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594451)

Back when a single mainframe + disk farm really did take up an entire large data center, the company I work for (up north of N.Y.C.) vented in outside winter air to save on cooling costs.

Re:Great idea (3, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595061)

Back in the days when I worked on a Burroughs B3700, no amount of venting to the outside world worked. If the air-conditioning failed, we had a bit over 40 minutes to shut everything down before the temperature in the machine-room hit 50 dec. C and the core started to fry. Not much fun to work in. Ah, them were the days... ;-)

Anecdote (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594535)

Sometime ago, I had a conversation with someone who was complaining how inefficient his computer was; that 90% of the energy was turned into heat. My reply: "But doesn't that make it a very efficient heater?"

Re:Anecdote (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594847)

Actually, 100% of the energy is turned to heat, eventually.

Re:Great idea (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594583)

It's how I heat my bedroom.

Re:Great idea (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594771)

That gets problematic when you start having to open windows in december in illinois because your room is 95F (yes, it happened once) with the furnace vents blocked off. Then you fall asleep and when you wake up it is a wonderful 30F in your room.

Re:Great idea (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594781)

yeah i change my fans from low to high when i'm cold... i really do, and surprise surprise if you can wait a bit it actually does work

Re:Great idea (1)

jozlod (1304051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594721)

our lounge room (contains 3 comptuers + laptop) is consistently a few degree's warmer then the rest of the house, more so when there is some gaming going on, works nicely in winter...

Damn. (3, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594273)

That's a hot idea. Hope the discussion surrounding its merits doesn't get too heated, as alternative energy sources are really starting to heat up.

Re:Damn. (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594367)

No. Bad palegray. Bad!

Re:Damn. (2, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594429)

I was really hoping you'd warm up to my point of view.

Warm Wishes,

palegray.net

Re:Damn. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594505)

Cool it, you two.

Re:Damn. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594745)

Nah, keep going, you're on fire!

Re:Damn. (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595427)

You've reminded me of Batman & Robin. I'm in pain now. Thanks... :|

P4 (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594295)

Maybe folks over there should donate all their old P4 machines to them. The P there stands for "furnace."

Re:P4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27595281)

P4 ain't got nothing on older Cyrix chips. The heatsinks were enormous, let alone the beast of a fan you'd latch onto those bad boys. Floating point still managed to suck, which was funny considering the fact that Cyrix started out as a math co-processor company.

Re:P4 (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595493)

All the cyrix chips i've ever seen were socket 7 devices with heatsinks/fans to match

IIRC the P4 was the chip that introduced the concept of heatsink mountings that were seperate from the socket to support it's HUGE heatsink requirements.

First of many solutions? (1)

PTFD5023 (1481209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594307)

Let's take the idea one step further - who says the waste heat should only be used to heat homes? You could build a closed-loop system that would allow the heat to turn turbines and generate electricity, and then return the cool water to the data center for cooling purposes.

Re:First of many solutions? (3, Funny)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594327)

Then can you use the electricity to power the computers?

Re:First of many solutions? (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594373)

Traitor! When the war with machines comes benjamindees will go down as the quisling that taught them they were self-sufficient. You fool! You've completely cut us out of the loop. Now we don't even have a shot at getting that utopian neural simulation of a world to enjoy while we humbly serve as batteries.

Re:First of many solutions? (1)

tylernt (581794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594393)

Then can you use the electricity to power the computers?

That's not as crazy as it sounds. As long as the cost of operating the steam turbines and generators (and the amortized cost of the installation) is less than the amount you'll save utility power, it's feasible.

My guess is utility power is going to be cheaper, though. The Rankine steam cycle isn't terribly efficient -- you'll be luck to get more than a few percent back from your waste heat.

Oblig Simpson's quote (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594679)

We obey the laws of thermodynamics in this house, young lady!

What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (5, Insightful)

ben2umbc (1090351) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594315)

So what happens to these people's heat source if the data center is shut down or becomes obsolete in the future? I would expect the homes to be around much longer than a data center might.

Re:What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (1, Funny)

jslarve (1193417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594361)

"Look at the silly monkey!"

Re:What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (4, Informative)

emandres (857332) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594397)

Well, obviously this isn't going to be the primary source of heat for most of the homes involved. I would imagine that all of the homes that will be affected already have some sort of heating (e.g. furnace, base board heaters, etc). These people won't be completely freed from a monthly gas/electric heating bill, but I would imagine it will save them a pretty penny in the colder months. Really, this makes a whole lot of sense. I've had computers confined in a cabinet under a desk that ran so hot that the BIOS would shut down the computer if you didn't leave the cabinet door cracked. Granted, that was back in the P4 days (although I imagine the newer multi-core CPU's crank out their fair share of extra heating). That, and my laptop is currently acting as a rather nice heater for my lap.

Re:What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (5, Interesting)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594525)

That, and my laptop is currently acting as a rather nice heater for my lap.

I hope you don't wind up with a cyst developing in your testicle like I did... and that was only 2 hrs a day on the train using a laptop for 3 months. Admittedly this laptop was a piece of shit that should never have been released with the name laptop, and it got so hot i often would have to shut the bastard down half way through the train ride home as it was going to burn my legs. HTH, HAND.

Re:What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594871)

LOL what the fuck did you expect? Cooking your balls every day, they hang outside for a reason.

Re:What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594893)

what the fuck did you expect?

I dunno, a laptop to behave like the 4 previous laptops I'd had at different workplaces that hadn't cooked my nuts?!? It was the first (and only time) i will ever use an Acer laptop. Never had that problem with Dell, HP or IBM/Lenovo laptops.

Re:What happens if the Data Center shuts down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27595175)

More importantly, what happens to the data centres cooling capacity when the heating isnt needed in summer?

Sooner or later, the nearby houses and businesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594317)

will be subjected to the data center analog of the old trick of keeping a car from boiling over on a hot summer day by turning on the heater.

No global warming fears here... (3, Insightful)

clinko (232501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594411)

I'm pretty sure the laptop i'm using right now could do a better job. Plus, I don't have to worry about my children's future.

Re:No global warming fears here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594591)

sorry, penny arcade [penny-arcade.com]

call me an idealist, but (5, Interesting)

waveformwafflehouse (1221950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594423)

I smell a new routing protocol that redirects traffic to the cold parts of the world

Re:call me an idealist, but (1)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594725)

CPIP? (Carrier Pigeon Internet Protocol)
Huge bandwidth, massive latency.

So... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594425)

if you stop reading slashdot your grandmother freezes to death?

A cautionary thermal tale (4, Interesting)

Microship (241842) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594445)

Ages ago (60s or early 70s), a large aluminum company built a new HQ building (in Richmond, IIRC). They ran the numbers on computer-cooling vs building-heating, and made the computers an integral part of the equation (downscaling the heating plant accordingly). You see where this is going...

As the move approached, the DP guys saw an opportunity, and canceled their PO to Armonk... opting instead for an Amdahl, I believe. Winter came, and people started wearing coats at their desks. My friend who worked there reported that they were hastily building a kluge auxiliary heating plant with insulated ducts running across a parking lot.

Of course, the Docklands project doesn't sound like it's making any assumptions about the amount of waste heat, just doing something useful with it. But I hadn't thought of that paleo-computing tale in decades and had to pass it along.

Re:A cautionary thermal tale (3, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595121)

That would be interesting, if you had bothered to say what DP, Armonk, or Amdahl is.

Re:A cautionary thermal tale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27595317)

Amdahl was one of IBM's main rivals in the mainframe industry. Don't know about DP or Armonk.

Re:A cautionary thermal tale (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595401)

My university had a similar problem. When the computing building was refurbished, air conditioning was installed in all the labs, but heating wasn't. It was assumed the computers would keep the rooms warm enough. That was fine, until a few years ago when computers started to do things like go on standby automatically, reduce their clock speed when unused etc. Changing all the CRT screens to LCDs had a big impact too. The rooms are now cold in winter. (And presumably, the aircon bill a lot lower.)

Distribute servers out to buildings that need heat (1)

lotho brandybuck (720697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594455)

Using waste heat is a great idea, and I'm glad it's starting to be done.

In an ideal world, (high up/down bandwidth to residences and commercial buildings, servers could be distributed out to locations that need heat. Modulate the load on the servers to provide more or less heat as needed.

If we had the northern and southern hemispheres well connected, our server use could always heat people in the winter hemisphere.

Re:Distribute servers out to buildings that need h (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594495)

As we speak, someone in a global corporation with a fat north/south pipe is working on implementing this on two computers at each end, so that it can be patented, placed on his resume, filed away, and never again put to use.

But... (2, Insightful)

xMattyDx (1472457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594565)

I thought only in Soviet Russia that data center warms you?

Intel, you're my hot water heater! (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594625)

The next PC I make I am going to put in the basement and have a peltier heat exchanger to use the waste heat from the peltier and the PC to pre-heat the water for my hot water heater.

how we did it at work (1)

ouachiski (835136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594645)

We heated the tech shop where I work all winter with our server rack. Of course I do live in south Louisiana where you can count the below freezing days on your fingers but the shop is also pretty large. We finally got our blower to vent the hot air outside installed last week so now the server closet does not stay at a constant 90F now.

Heat!=power (3, Informative)

caffeineboy (44704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594657)

As with anything written by a reporter, engineering details are all f'ed up.

"The project is expected to produce up to nine megawatts of power for the local community."

No, the project will probably pipe 9MW of heat from the server farm over to the housing complex. Hopefully they can use 9MW of heat continuously, summer and winter.

âoeThe energy savings will equate to boiling 3,000 kettles continuously,â

Um - that's a really funny way of thinking about saving energy. 9Mw/3000= 3kw/kettle. That's a hell of a kettle.

For anyone who thinks that running a computer in their house to heat it is clever, you would do a lot better (price AND CO2 wise) just running a furnace or your heat pump. Resistance heating is the WORST way to heat a house.

If you're going to be producing the heat anyway and can find a use for it like this, please do! Don't think that because you CAN use a computer for a heater means that it makes sense.

Re:Heat!=power (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594741)

>Hopefully they can use 9MW of heat continuously, summer and winter.
You can actually use wasted heat to produce chilled water.
It's quite common in co-generation.

Re:Heat!=power (1)

caffeineboy (44704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594769)

If this is heat rejected from a server farm, it'll be too low grade to do much with it other than heating. You might be able to heat the premise hot water a tiny bit...

Absorption chillers, the common way to do waste heat to cooling, want medium grade waste heat a lot hotter than what's coming from a server farm and steam generation is totally out of the question.

Re:Heat!=power (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594833)

I never said it'd be efficient; thermodynamically, or perhaps even "economically.*"
But what else are they going to with 9MW of warm wind in the summer?
I suppose they could drying something (laundry, fruit, paper)

* For some variant of the modern corruption of oikonomos

Re:Heat!=power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27594759)

At least he didn't say nonsense like "nine megawatts of energy" or "nine megawatts per year", which is usually what you see in these kinds of articles.

Re:Heat!=power (2, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594863)

True. But the only alternative to computer heat in my apartment is in-wall heater.

Which means both are resistance heaters but one crunches numbers.

A hell of a kettle (3, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595011)

Modern kettles do consume 3kW [edoxa.co.uk] , they have these huge, flat elements that boil very fast.

It's actually more efficient, as less heat will be lost from the body of the kettle during the boil cycle, because it has less time.

Re:Heat!=power (1)

richard.cs (1062366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595129)

That's a hell of a kettle.

In the UK that's a pretty common power rating for a kettle. A quick search seems to suggest they range between 2.2 and 3.1 kW though in my experience most people seem to buy the 3 Kw ones because they boil quicker. One advantage of having a decent 240 V electrical system (and yes, it's still 240 V in practice).

Re:Heat!=power (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595199)

"No, the project will probably pipe 9MW of heat from the server farm over to the housing complex."

No you're wrong. Heat is the energy transfered (measured in Joules). The 9MW is the heat transfer *rate* and it is indeed a power quantity.

Ask Wikipedia if you don't believe me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat#Notation [wikipedia.org]

Efficiency of a heat engine (3, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594747)

I suppose that they did investigate the matter, but I wonder how this works. It's clear that there are a lot of watts being dissipated in the datacenter, but the problem is that they are dissipated against room temperature air. In order to heat houses with that, you have to use a heat pump which converts a heat flow at room temperature into a 65 C water that can easily be transported over large distances.

Normally, an airconditioning works as a heat pump that absorbs the heat by evaporating refrigerant slightly below room temperature (say 10 C), then compressing it so that it can condense and release the heat in an outdoor radiator at 40 C (ambient temperature up to 35 C). An ideal heat engine would be able to do this with an efficiency of 313 K/(40 C-10 C) = 10, which means that in order to displace 10 W of heat, you need to put in 1 W of mechanical work. I believe that a practical air-conditioning heat pump has an efficiency of 4 or so. Now in order to release the heat against 65 C (condensor temperature 75 C) instead of 35 C, the efficiency would halve. The work that you have to put into this heat engine comes from a power plant which itself has only 35% efficiency. So the balance would be:

Standard datacenter:
Server heat production: P
A/C electricity consumption: 0.25*P
Heat from burning fuel in power plant: 3.75*P

Datacenter with residential heating:
Server heat production: P
Heat pump electricity consumption: 0.6*P
Heat output to homes: 1.6*P
(gain: 1.6*P) Heat in power plant: 4.8*P (extra cost: 1.05*P)

Net gain: 0.55*P. For that you have to do all the infrastructure of big insulated hot-water pipes to residential areas and special heat pumps. It's not clear to me that this will pay off (in money and in environmental cost).

Re:Efficiency of a heat engine (1)

velen (1198819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594915)

I thought the EER of modern air conditioners was closer to .9 and not as low as .4?

Scaling up to combined heat and power (4, Informative)

Rovaani (20023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27594757)

Cogeneration [wikipedia.org] (or combined heat and power) can increase the efficiency of fossil fuel plants by a factor of 2 (from 50% to 93% efficiency mention in this Times article [timesonline.co.uk] ). The downside is that the the piping infrastructure investment needed is huge. Maybe this data center powered heating scheme can give it a leg up.

KWK (2, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595035)

this is called 'Kraft-Wärme-Kopplung' in German and warmte-kracht-koppeling in dutch. see also Combined Heat and Power or CHP.

how? (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595173)

I wonder how they do it technically (yea, i was too busy to actually RTFA), but other than that i wonder why no one has attempted this any sooner!

And i think the scales on the summary are "a little" bit off

I actually suggested this to a client (1)

rammer (9221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595277)

They thought I was joking.
This was in back around y2k I think.

Another source of heat ... (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595335)

They ought to have a heat pipe from the House of Commons -- hot air is just about the only useful thing that is produced there.

Broken (1)

c_g_hills (110430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27595371)

This story amuses me because I live in Aalborg, and we have district heating, but this morning there is a break in the system so our entire complex is without hot water. Luckily it is coming up to summer so heating is not necessary.

This in the UK so it's datacentre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27595535)

Or maybe data centre?

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