New plans to heat London buildings with data centres’ waste heat
15 November 2023
The UK Government has invested in a new green energy project that is expected to deliver 95GWh of heat between 2026 and 2040 to London homes, using waste heat from computer data centres.
The flagship project, led by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation in London, is poised to be the first of its kind in the UK. It will leverage waste heat from large computer systems storing internet data, to provide heating and hot water for over 10,000 homes and 250,000m2 of commercial space.
With a government-backed investment of £36 million, this heat network is a significant stride toward a low-carbon energy source, contributing to the nation's ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
It is one of five new projects announced, spanning across London, Watford, Suffolk, and Lancaster, that promise to generate thousands of skilled jobs in the green energy sector. Lancaster University, for instance, will receive over £21 million to decarbonise its campus using a low-carbon heat network powered by a new solar farm and an existing wind turbine.
Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho emphasised the role of innovation in carbon reduction, stating, "Innovative projects, like these announced today, are another example of why the UK is a world leader in cutting carbon emissions.
“We are investing in the technologies of the future so that families across the country will now be able to warm their homes with low-carbon, recycled heat – while creating thousands of new skilled jobs."
Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, added, "Keeping homes warm with waste heat from technology is a glimpse into the future – and demonstrates just how innovative this country can be when it comes to reducing our carbon emissions."
Heat networks, the backbone of these projects, distribute heating and hot water to multiple buildings through centralised sources like heat pumps or underground, manufacturing, and waste management systems. They play a crucial role in cutting carbon emissions by eliminating the need for individual, energy-intensive heating solutions, such as gas boilers.
This funding round, building on the £122 million previously allocated for 11 new heat network projects, will play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions in the heating sector, which constitutes 30 percent of all UK emissions.