The tragic flaw of modern data centres is that once expensive energy is wasted as heat, the operator has to spend even more energy to cool it down. This means that reusing the heat produced by a data centre can have an exponential improvement on cost-effectiveness.
It can be done in a few ways. Firstly, heat produced by the data centre can be redirected to heat nearby buildings. One example of this is the Telehouse West facility in London’s Docklands, which was only granted planning permission on the condition that the heat it produced would be used to warm nearby homes.
Another approach is to convert the heat back into electricity, using cogeneration or combined heat and power infrastructure. This electricity can then be used to power cooling facilities or elsewhere in the organisation, and it can even be resold to utility suppliers.
This is still very much a cutting-edge procedure, but it could prove to be politically advantageous for the IT sector. Data centre operators could not only improve their own energy efficiency, but help reduce overall consumption too.