What if your municipal swimming pool was heated… by cooling a data center?

Alexander Boero

March 16, 2023 at 11:45 a.m.


swimming pool © Guduru Ajay bhargav / Pexels

© Guduru Ajay bhargav / Pexels

In the United Kingdom, around twenty public swimming pools could be heated using heat from a data centre. A good idea that has also made its way in France.

Data centers are reputed to be very energy-intensive, which poses a problem at a time when data consumption is exploding and energy sobriety is essential. But the heat emitted by a data center can be used for activities which are suffering from the explosion in the cost of electricity and gas and which are looking for saving solutions, much less expensive. Among them, the municipal swimming pools.

Heating a swimming pool thanks to a data center, almost as simple as pie

Let’s take the direction of Exmouth, a seaside resort located in the southwest of England where the start-up Deep Green has actually installed a small data center under a swimming pool. Imagine that the energy it releases heats the pool, for a solution that is both profitable and sustainable. And the swimming pool enjoys it for free.

The technique does not only benefit the swimming pool, because if the heat from the computers warms its water, the heat transfer in the swimming pool conversely cools the computers. The heat produced by the machines allows the swimming pool to be heated to a temperature of approximately 30°C, for more than 60% of the time.

Deep Green managing director Mark Bjornsgaard originally planned to power seven pools this year. But the success is such that it will eventually equip twenty. A boon for the United Kingdom, which is facing an uninterrupted wave of closures of its swimming pools, with nearly 400 pools emptied since 2010. In addition, another start-up proposes to use the same process to heat the interior individual.

In France too, we are active

In France, solutions also exist and are emerging. We can mention here the heat emitted by the next data center of the American company Equinix. It will be recovered by the heating network of SMIREC (Joint syndicate of calorific energy networks), the second network in Île-de-France.

The heat captured from the cooling of the servers (we are talking about water at 28°C) will supply 75% of renewable and recovered energy for the heating and domestic hot water of the ZAC métropolitaine de la Plaine Saulnier, located on the town of Saint-Denis. This system will even supply the aquatic center of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

From a more technical point of view, the heat lost during the cooling process of the data center machines will be recovered at the temperature, as we said, of 28°C, and this, all year round. Three heat pumps will increase this to 65°C to supply the heating network. This will benefit future users of the ZAC which, once the Games are over, will become a partly residential area. 10,000 MWh of heat should be produced each year.

In Paris, the indoor and outdoor pools of the Butte-aux-Cailles swimming pool (in the 13e district) have already been powered by the heat given off by computer servers for several years now.

Source : The Guardian

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