06 Feb 2024, 13:09
Carolina Kyllmann

Plans to use waste heat from German data centres on hold due to lack of demand – survey

Clean Energy Wire

Many data centre operators, local authorities and energy suppliers are putting projects to use waste heat from data centres on hold as they struggle to find suitable customers, a survey by the German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF) found. A lack of demand was cited as an obstacle by the involved parties regardless of the project's stage — whether it was before the start, in the planning process or implementation — and was true for more than half of those surveyed (56%). Other obstacles delaying or preventing projects included technical challenges (cited by 53%) and economic viability (52%). Of the 100 parties surveyed, around a third (31%) said that they had put projects to use waste heat from data centres on hold for the time being. DENEFF urged policymakers and market players to bring suppliers and consumers together. "The technologies required for waste heat utilisation are available and tried and tested; the difficulties relate more to the framework conditions for the use of technology," the association wrote in a press release.  

Most waste heat from data centres is currently lost to the atmosphere, but it could play an important role in the climate-neutral conversion of heating. After Germany largely ignored its potential in the energy transition, the government hopes to make better use of waste heat from data centres as part of its digitalisation strategy and energy efficiency act. Digital association Bitkom has previously called for the government to establish an obligation to purchase waste heat and modernise heating networks.

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