Microsoft to build heat producing data centre in Finland

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Microsoft to build heat producing data centre in Finland

US software company Microsoft will build a new emission-free data centre in the Helsinki metropolitan area in Finland.

Finnish state majority-owned energy company Fortum and Microsoft on Thursday announced the unique collaboration project, whereby Fortum will capture the excess heat generated by a new data centre region, said Fortum in a press release.

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 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.

“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,” said Markus Rauramo, President and CEO of Fortum.

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.

“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,” said Cindy Rose, President of Microsoft Western Europe.

“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,” said Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

“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,” said Minister for Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä.


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