Adobe Stock

A new town is being built in Bergen, Norway, and it's putting an interesting twist on heat sourcing. The town of Lyseparken could be considered the world's first energy-positive city, says Fast Company writer Adele Peters, and it will take its power from a nearby data center.

Peters explains:

“Our first goal was to make a self-sufficient area by using local, renewable resources,” says Fredrik Seliussen, who is leading the project for the local municipality of Os, which wanted to develop the land to bring new jobs to the area. “After we had theoretically solved this . . . we decided to go further to the next level. The goal was not to be carbon neutral–but it might be the result of our business model.”

Data centers are typically built in remote areas because they use so much land; one data center in Nevada sprawls over 7.2 million square feet. But new, smaller data centers can be built in urban areas, reducing the time it takes to transfer data to users and creating a new opportunity to make use of a data center’s other product–an enormous amount of waste heat.

As data centers use energy (globally, they used 416 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2016, more than the entire United Kingdom), one big chunk of that electricity is used to keep servers cool. In the design for the new data center at Lyseparken, instead of fans, a liquid cooling system will send extra heat to a district heating system, which connects to businesses in the area, heating each building via the floor. The liquid loses heat as it travels, so the buildings that need heat most are located closest to the data center. Eventually, the liquid is cool enough that it can loop back to the data center to cool it down–and as that happens, it heats up again to start the process over.

Read More