Utilize residual heat of data centers

Amsterdam builds more and more data centers. These data centers use up alot of electricity, but also provide a lot of heat. The innovation team of the City of Amsterdam is gathering information concerning how we can use this residual heat for both existing and new buildings. And now we're asking the ASC community for input!

How can we utilize the heat data centers produce? Do you have some inspiring ideas or examples?

Kind regards,


Melchior Kanyemesha's picture
Melchior Kanyemesha

Thanks everyone for the interesting and inspiring answers. I've been following up the information you've given me and used what was relevant for a presentation for our aldermen Van Doorninck and Meliani.

In januari we're gearing up to start a project/program to investigate this topic further. I would very much like to meet up with Maaike, Herman and Evert to hear more about your thoughts and ideas!
Please, feel free to contact me for an appointment at the cityhall.

Kind regards,

Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

A couple of month ago, the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam published "Warmte Koude - Grand Design 2.0 Handelingsperspectief en Analyse". This plan intends to increase significantly district heating in Amsterdam and the surrounding region. Datacenters are considered as a main source of LT water to feed this system. What worries me are two things.
In the first place before the heat from a datacentred can be used, the (green) electricity that is needed to produce the heat (in case the terminals) has to be 'harvested'. This is an even bigger challenge that finding the large quantities of warm water for districht heating.
Secondly, an ever growing number of people is questioning the unsatiable longing for big data. Not the need for data wich are useful to support the solution of urban problems, but the data tech companies like Google, Amazon, Uber and the likes are collecting about us in order to 'colonize' our lives.

Evert Kuiken's picture
Evert Kuiken

I am actively opposing the biomass unit that Nuon is planning to build in Diemen. It is supposed to make the existing district heating system more renewable. But biomass is not renewable at all. Argument of Nuon to not use the heat from data centers is that this heat is not recognized as renewable and hence does not make the district heating system renewable. A technical issue is that the temperature of heat from data centers is too low to use in the current high temperature district heating system. And upgrading the heat costs a lot of energy. So I think you should focus on using the heat for low temperature needs, such as swimming pools (nice idea!) or offices near to the data centers.


At Nerdalize, a startup from Delft, we're building something in line with the French :)
We've developed a heating device based on computer servers. We place these devices into peoples homes and connect them to a fiber connection. Companies use the servers for their computations and the excess heat of the servers is used to heat up water. This saves home owners around 200 euro a year on their gas bill.

So basically we are using the residual heat of a datacenter, but we decided to skip the step of building the datacenter and distributing the heat. Instead we distribute the servers and create the heat where needed.

Our website and this NOS video show how this looks like:

Great to see that you are looking into using the residual heat of datacenters. Not only is it a great source of heat, the energy usage of the datacenter industry has been growing massively over the last years. Even to the point that datacenters worldwide have higher CO2 emissions than the aviation industry!

Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

I am sure that the heat of the datacenters could perfactly for district heating. As many other towns Amsterdam is looking desperately for new sources of heat to warm houses as soon as the supply of natural gas wil be finished.