Helsinki homes to utilise waste heat from local data centre

District heating

Energy company Helen and Elisa, a forerunner in data communication and digital services and 5G, have agreed on the utilisation of waste heat produced in a data centre. According to the agreement, waste heat recovered in the cooling process of Elisa’s modern data centre in Pasila is transferred for heating homes and business premises in the area. At best, the waste heat collected from the data centre can replace the annual heat demand of up to a thousand one-bedroom flats.

This circular-economy cooperation between Elisa and Helen is based on the open district heating network. A two-way district heating network means a heating network where the customers can both buy heat and sell the heat they produce to the energy company. By recycling existing heat, it is possible to increase the amount of emission-free heat in Helsinki and save resources.

Elisa has been a carbon-neutral company since 2020, and Helen aims to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“In Finland, people regard recycling and the use of renewable materials as one of the most important indicators of sustainable business practice. Recycling is also sensible in the use of energy. Investing in both energy self-sufficiency and in technology that promotes energy efficiency is more important than ever. The cooperation with Elisa offers an excellent opportunity to increase the amount of recycled heat for our customers by utilising our energy platform,” explains Henrietta Lahti, business lead, data centre and waste heat solutions at Helen.

Elisa says that improving of energy efficiency and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions have been part of the company’s strategy since 2009. Utilisation of waste heat from data centres reduces the carbon footprint and replaces fossil fuels with respect to district heat production. Waste heat from Elisa’s large data centres in Säteri and Tapiola in Espoo has been directed to heating for years, and 100 per cent of the district cooling used in data centres is renewable.

“Elisa’s mission is a sustainable future through digitalisation, and we are strongly committed to sustainable development in all our activities. In cooperation with Helen, energy efficiency in our Pasila data centre will improve so that it will become environmentally positive, helping to reduce global emissions. That way we can offer our customers digital services that are produced in an even more sustainable way than before,” says Sami Rajamäki, Elisa’s vice president, network services.

Waste heat of data centres has an important role in Helen’s transition towards a distributed energy system where energy is generated in several sources. Data centres are excellent sources of heat as they produce heat evenly throughout the year. Helen’s unique 1,409-kilometre-long district heating network in Helsinki makes it possible for various waste heat models, such as the data centre in Pasila, to join the network, and it also acts as an excellent platform for new carbon-neutral solutions.

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