Fortum and Microsoft announce world’s largest collaboration to heat homes, services and businesses with sustainable waste heat from new data centre region

Fortum and Microsoft have announced a unique collaboration project, whereby Fortum will capture the excess heat generated by a new data centre region to be built by Microsoft in the Helsinki metropolitan area in Finland. The data centres will use 100% emission-free electricity, and Fortum will transfer the clean heat from the server cooling process to homes, services and business premises that are connected to its district heating system. The waste heat recycling concept from the data centre region will be the largest of its kind in the world.

The concept is unique in that the location for the data centre region was chosen specifically with waste heat recycling in mind. It makes use of Fortum’s existing district heating infrastructure, the second largest in Finland, for heat capture and distribution. The infrastructure includes about 900 km underground pipes that transfer heat to approximately 250,000 users in the cities of Espoo and Kauniainen and the municipality of Kirkkonummi. Fortum has collaborated with the local cities and municipalities for several years in order to pave the way for these investments. 

“Developing solutions for the global climate challenge together with partners is a strategic priority for Fortum, and we are proud to embark on this exceptional journey together with Microsoft. Sometimes the most sustainable solutions are simple ones: By tapping into waste heat from data centres, we can provide clean heat for homes, businesses and public buildings in Espoo’s and the neighbouring communities’ district heating network in Finland, and reduce about 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. This is a significant step for a cleaner world, made possible by our joint ambition to mitigate climate change,” says Markus Rauramo, President and CEO of Fortum. 

District heating is the most popular method of heating premises in Finland. A district heating system is infrastructure used in cities that generates and captures heat and distributes it to buildings on a large scale. Heat is transferred in hot water that is pumped through pre-insulated underground pipes. The new generation of district heating is based on replacing fossil fuels with smart and flexible solutions, such as renewable electricity, heat pumps and waste heat utilisation. Artificial intelligence will optimise the operations of the entire system. 

Once the new data centre region’s waste heat capture is in operation, a total of about 60 percent of the area’s heating will be generated by climate-friendly waste heat. Of this, 40 percent results from the data centre region and the rest from other waste heat sources such as purified waste water.

“The decision to invest in a data centre that also provides surplus heat to our cities and homes is a win-win. It will accelerate Finland’s digital growth while making our energy system greener. I also hope that this collaboration can serve as a model to other countries and cities looking means to achieve the double transformation of climate neutrality and digital competitiveness,” says Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland.

“It comes naturally to us Finns to search for partnerships and solve global issues together. Fortum’s work is an excellent example of this: it has developed this project with long-term climate targets in mind and has found a world-class partner in Microsoft, says Mika Lintilä, Minister for Economic Affairs of Finland.

Sustainable digitalisation calls for innovative thinking

The joint project takes place at the intersection of two megatrends: digitalisation and the energy transition. Fortum and Microsoft are bringing together world-leading expertise and innovation in heating, energy efficiency solutions and cloud technology and support the growth and competitiveness of the Helsinki metropolitan area, and of Finland, through sustainable decarbonisation and digitalisation. 

“Finland is at the forefront of digitalization and innovation, and the nation’s world-class companies and forward-looking public sector organizations are leading in the digital transformation of their sectors,” says Cindy Rose, President of Microsoft Western Europe. “We are incredibly proud of the novel way this datacenter will sustainably power Finnish digital transformation, while also heating Finnish homes and businesses and helping cities achieve their emissions targets. In this unique collaboration, Microsoft and Fortum combine their world leading expertise in cloud computing and sustainable energy solutions, transforming the design thinking of datacenters of the future.”  

“If we are to limit global climate warming to 1.5°C as required by the Paris agreement, we need innovative thinking to drive change at higher pace and bigger scale. This investment in the data centre region is a flagship example of climate action and circularity. The project is the first of its kind of this size, but we hope to inspire further development in the use of waste heat to deliver clean energy,” says Nebahat Albayrak, SVP Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability at Fortum.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

I accept that my given data and my IP address is sent to a server in the USA only for the purpose of spam prevention through the Akismet program.More information on Akismet and GDPR.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.