A decision by the Danish Tax Appeals Agency at the beginning of September looks set to enable more data center-fed district heating networks.

Prior to the decision, companies like Facebook and Apple had to pay for supplying heat to district heat networks, so the surplus heat was often wasted.

Ramboll is advising Denmark’s third largest district heating company, Fjernvarme Fyn, to recover surplus heat on a greater scale. According to the engineering consultancy, this represents a major new sales and export potential for Danish companies, as the possibility of copy-pasting this success in other places is far better when a full-scale reference plant can be showcased.
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This is the assessment of Tina Kramer Kristensen, Director of Energy Systems at Ramboll, and and recently elected Chairman of the Danish association for district heating export, DBDH.

“Many countries are looking to Denmark because we are good at holistically connecting energy systems and integrating large amounts of renewable energy into the existing infrastructure. Recovery of surplus heat from data centres is yet another example of an effective solution to a global challenge, and we look forward to sharing our experience when the plant is up and running in 2020,” says Jan Strømvig, Director of Fjernvarme Fyn (District Heating Funen).

Ramboll’s Director of Energy Systems, Tina Kramer Kristensen added that the potential is also great in Denmark where much unused surplus heat is available from industry, and other large data centres are being planned as well, including data centres for Apple and Google in the western part of Denmark.

“We are already working with the Danish energy utility, Energi Viborg Kraftvarme, to assess the options for heat sales and optimisation for surplus heat from the ongoing construction of Apple’s data centre, and the potential is certainly much bigger both in Denmark and abroad,” she said.

“Generally, there is a huge potential worldwide for combined solutions using heat pumps that supply thermal energy for both district cooling and district heating. We are building solid experience that we can use on other projects, also abroad, by planning, designing and implementing such energy facilities in our home market.”