How heat from data centres and sewers could help combat climate change
A report published by the UK government listed data centres as a potentially key heat generator in heat networks which will rely on pipes to transmit hot water from a centralised heat source to homes and businesses.
The report highlighted how the UK plans to hit its target of reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 in order to tackle climate change.
A key part of the government’s £26 billion “green industrial revolution” is by reducing the use of gas boilers in homes and offices. About 85% of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, making it one of the most polluting sectors of the economy.
The government has set a target of banning sales of new gas boilers by 2035, including a fund to support householders looking to install lower-carbon heating systems.
“Much like the move to electric vehicles, the move to low-carbon heating will be a gradual transition from niche product to mainstream consumer option,” said Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the government’s 202-page Heat and buildings strategy document.
Heat pumps are a vital part of this strategy, with the UK announcing a £60 million funding programme which aims to support 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028.
The report also outlined plans to invest £338m between 2022 and 2025 into the creation of heat networks – also known as district heating – some of which will be powered by data centres. Other sources mentioned include heat from sewer drains, abandoned coal mines or even the London Underground.
“As this pipe infrastructure can be used to deliver heating from a range of different heat sources, they can be decarbonised by switching to a low-carbon source of heat,” said the document.
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