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Data centre technology trialled as sustainable alternative for boilers in UK homes

Written by Thu 29 Jun 2023

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has teamed up with Thermify to trial unique data centre-style technology designed to replace traditional home boilers.

Innovating boilers with distributed data centre technology

Thermify’s HeatHub system, which fuses a distributed data centre technology with a heating system, will be piloted in several social homes as part of this project. The model utilises waste heat from a bank of computers, thereby providing hot water and heat for the home while concurrently generating revenue from cloud computing services.

The HeatHub system, currently being piloted in various UK homes, has commercial rollout plans slated for next year, with over 300 installs expected in 2024-25. Public pre-orders are anticipated to open in the fourth quarter of this year for installation in 2024.

“Thermify’s system offers an affordable heating solution and, if deployed widely, will significantly reduce fuel poverty in the UK,” added Theune.

In terms of savings, the HeatHub system could reduce household energy costs by up to 56% (£752) annually. The Thermify distributed data centre also boasts a 75% reduction in emissions compared to centralised data centres.

Combating carbon emissions and fuel poverty

This initiative forms part of the wider Smart Heat and Intelligent Energy in Low-Income Districts (SHIELD) project aimed at reducing carbon emissions and combating fuel poverty in Essex.

“SHIELD is a brilliant example of Essex County Council’s dedication to developing innovative solutions to climate and economic challenges. This approach ensures no one gets left behind in the journey to net-zero,” said Councillor Peter Schwier, Essex County Council Climate Czar.

UKPN’s SHIELD initiative is a two-phase project, with the first centred on the creation and testing of novel business models for home heat and energy decarbonisation. The subsequent phase will implement these models in real-world settings.

“Thermify is excited to be taking part in the SHIELD project. Providing low-cost heating to vulnerable people and helping to reduce fuel poverty is central to our goals and we look forward to finding innovative ways to combine technologies with project partners,” said Travis Theune, the CEO of Thermify.

The SHIELD project is partly financed by an £82,000 Ofgem grant and has garnered support from Innovate UK.

Other partner organisations, including Citizen’s Advice Essex, Eastlight Community Homes, UK Community Works, and Kensa Contracting, will aid the SHIELD project in ensuring wide access to sustainable heating and renewable energy solutions.

The SHIELD project aligns with the UK’s regional goals to explore a variety of technology options, including solar technologies, in the transition to a more sustainable energy future.

Considerations for potential cyber risks associated with the use of distributed data centres within homes will be essential in future policy and strategy development.

> Read more: UK tightens energy regulations: challenges and opportunities for data centres

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Written by Thu 29 Jun 2023

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