Image By Anni Hanen.
What have data centers to do with cleantech? Plenty! We are currently witnessing a wave of new cleantech ideas in data centers. The growing demand for processing and data storage capacity globally is coming together with environmental demands to create innovations in the area. Actually, the first innovation is already in corporate use in Finland. A leading example comes from Mäntsälä, a town in the Helsinki region. Here a heat recovery innovation cuts district heating emissions by 40 per cent while reducing costs.
Finnish data center innovation is clean, cost-effective and reliable
How? The exhaust air from the Yandex search engine giant’s data center is directed to an adjacent heat recovery plant that recycles it into a district heating network of the town. Mäntsälä is a town with a population of 20,000, about 40 minutes from the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. In the winter heating needs are much higher in the snowy, cold Finland. In the summer, you could say the whole town warms with waste heat.
The heat recovery innovation at Yandex’s data center in Mäntsälä, Finland, by the electricity and water provider company Nivos Ltd has just won the Climate Act of the Year award of The Finnish Energy organisation 2016.
The innovation is globally unique in terms of its scale and directly reduces carbon dioxide emissions in Mäntsälä. Thanks to the innovation, Nivos Ltd has been able to reduce the price of district heating in Mäntsälä, while emissions caused by district heating have been cut by 40 per cent.
Why is the Helsinki Region so well suited for data centers?
The Finns provide the internet companies with a solution that puts together energy-efficient data center with lower costs and steady electric supply. This shows that the service providers have managed to create far more advanced operating environment for data centers than the rest of the world currently can. In Mäntsälä, the town, the local energy supplier and the development agency work closely together. Finngrid, the Finnish power supplier also made a bold, conscious decision to enable cleantech solutions for businesses. The aim is that towns like Mäntsälä will attract more companies to locate their business in Finland
-Our choice of Finland and Mäntsälä is based on several factors. The key one is the total cost of data center’s ownership, including energy cost and availability, telecommunication infrastructure in the area, climate conditions and convenient location near the large logistic hub of Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, says Vladimir Isaev from Yandex.
Locating a data center in a region where the infrastructure is at place is a key from an energy efficiency perspective. It is revolutionary for the regional players to create solutions to curb data centers’ emissions to such extend. It is highly applaudable because emissions caused by heating represent a bigger problem than emissions from electricity, which has more clean solutions available. Solutions like this in Mäntsälä at Yadex show what can be done when companies and city administration have the will to collaborate for a cleaner environment.
-We are the perfect place for data centers because we have everything that is needed. We are cheap and eco-friendly. Other countries haven’t sorted these issues out yet, says Ari Kurvi, Yandex Data Center Manager.
Internationally scalable solution
The model developed by Nivos Ltd, Yandex and the Finnish waste heat capture technology provider Calefa can also be replicated in data centres and other heat producing facilities around the world. The innovation has already attracted international attention.
- Yandex is an internet giant that operates the world’s 4th largest search engine.
- Google, another search engine giant, also has one of its three European data centers in Finland.
- Yandex’s data center in Mäntsälä took 80 million to build. Yandex plans to build further data centers in the Mäntsälä business park Kapuli. Yandex Data Center opened in 2014.
- Nivos Ltd’s heat recovery innovation won won the Climate Act of the Year award presented by the Sustainable development forum of The Finnish Energy organisation in 2016.
Watch a video animation on Mäntsälä business park