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EU initiative reuses data centre heat for network in Germany

Written by Wed 8 May 2024

Image Credit: POST-IT

Waste heat from a data centre in Germany could be stored in an abandoned mine and repurposed into Ruhr University’s heating and cooling network.

The project at Ruhr University, Bochum, aims to demonstrate Mine Thermal Energy Storage (MTES). It is being funded as part of a European Union initiative, PUSH-IT, investigating the potential of underground heat storage to meet energy demand.

The University’s heating and cooling network is fed with heat from gas-fired boilers and a combined heat and power unit.

The initiative will partly replace the current heat supply by reusing mine water from the abandoned Mansfeld colliery as a local and renewable heat source. PUSH-IT will store waste heat at around  30 °C in the MTES with the capacity to raise the temperature by up to more than 90 °C when needed to meet demand.

Energy Infrastructure at Ruhr University Bochum

The local heating grid at Ruhr University Bochum is powered by two combined heat and power units totalling 9 MW, operated by Unique Wärme GmbH, and supplemented by three peak boilers at the university’s technical centre with a combined thermal output of 105 MW. 

This grid also provides heat for around 4800 apartments, 760 houses, and 115 other industrial client buildings, maintaining temperatures between 80-120°C depending on outside conditions.

The project aims to enhance heating grid efficiency through smart district control and validate a target storage capacity of 2-8 TJ through push and pull tests before commissioning. It also seeks to calibrate a site-specific model using generated subsurface data to prove the system’s performance and determine heat pump dimensions post-MTES test operation.

The PUSH-IT Data Centre Project Status

The preliminary design phase for MTES includes activities like determining well locations and completions, conducting numerical modelling, and obtaining legal approvals. 

Currently, the decision on the integration concept, based on a feasibility study, is underway. The drilling of the first two boreholes is scheduled for autumn 2024.

As the EU aims to have a net-zero greenhouse gas economy by 2050, data centre firms are looking to find ways to reuse data centre heat to reduce their carbon footprint.

In February, In a UK-first, Dirty Looks, a London-based post-production company, successfully rendered high-quality film using Deep Green’s heat re-use data centre.

In January, Octopus Energy invested £200 million ($254 million) in data centre heat recycling company, Deep Green, to expand their data centre heat reuse technology in the UK.

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Written by Wed 8 May 2024

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