Powering a pioneering Data Centre project

Using waste heat from data centres to grow vegetables at -30°C

Boden Green House, Sweden

Systemair designed and delivered the ventilation solution for an innovative pilot project using waste heat from a data centre to power a 300-square meter greenhouse allowing vegetables to grow year-round.

22–24°C
Indoor temperature of the greenhouse
1–2%
data centres’ global energy use
20–30°C below zero
Outdoor temperatures in Boden, Sweden

Energy-efficient pilot project

The waste heat from the data centre, half a megawatt, will power the 300-square-meter greenhouse allowing for year-round vegetable growth.

Collaborative approach

Public-private sector collaboration of multiple entities was responsible for making this ground-breaking project happen, including the Swedish Energy Agency, which the government has commissioned to make Sweden 50% more energy efficient by 2030.

Engineering expertise and excellence

The project benefited from Systemair’s engineering expertise and excellence, delivering a range of solutions that meet the project’s requirements to maintain a stable climate even when outdoor temperatures go as low as -30 degrees C.

Green transition and food security

The pilot project aims to address the issue of excessive energy waste while supporting the government’s objective to be more self-sufficient in food production, thereby reducing reliance on imports.

Europe
2020
Data Centre
Consultant

SWECO

Contractor

IM-Ventilation

Developer/Operator

Sture Nordmark, Nordmark AB

Setting a precedent

In Boden, Sweden, the construction of a 300-square meter smart greenhouse is underway at AF1, the site of the old military area. The pioneering greenhouse will be powered by recycled energy from a data centre half a megawatt in size. Previously, waste heat from the nearby data centre was simply released directly into the air. The objective was to re-use waste heat to power the greenhouse and enable year-round vegetable growth in the coldest part of Norrbotten.

The project is a private-public partnership among Systemair, Ventilationsfirma IM, Lulea Technical University, RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), Boden Business Agency, the local Boden municipality, and Genesis Mining's philanthropic arm, Hashpower For Science.  Through Boden Business Park, the municipality of Boden is cooperating with the Swedish Energy Agency to ensure the project maintains a holistic view of energy use and promotes the future development of the IT and food production industries.

Pär Johansson, Business Development Director, Data Centre Cooling at Systemair, “We started talking about different ways to use waste heat, and the idea came up to do this pilot project. EU Ecodesign directives already exist for many businesses for waste heat to be re-used, but these directives do not yet cover data centres classified as "storage buildings". But it will change. I think we will see new legislation in the next few years. However, even though there are no formal requirements yet, the industry must take a leadership role in championing more efficient processes. Approximately 1-2% of the world's energy is currently used for data centres, which is only expected to increase. As such, re-using waste heat should be a major focus in the data centre industry.”

The pilot project aims to address the issue of excessive energy waste while supporting the government’s objective to be more self-sufficient in food production, thereby reducing reliance on imports.

Håkan Nordin, Business Developer, at Boden Business Agency, said: "We scale it up to a size where you should be able to run a business. Then the ambition is to grow further, but this is a demonstration project where we can show that it is possible to conduct business 20-30°C below zero, grow vegetables and get them on the market.”  

Reusing waste heat

The project is a unique and pioneering project that would set a precedent for future developments of its kind and aligns with Boden’s green transition. Systemair’s ventilation solutions are designed to heat the greenhouse effectively even in outside temperatures that could go as low as -30°C.

Although the data centre in question is not very large, a lot of heat is generated. One of Genesis Mining's custom-built crypto mining storage containers is placed near the greenhouse for the project. The greenhouse and container are connected via a custom-built air duct system that carries the excess heat directly from the crypto mining storage container into the greenhouse.

Andreas Johansson, a Senior Lecturer from Lulea Technical University, who made calculations for designing the system for airflow from the data centre to the greenhouse, said, "For the cold climate in the north of Sweden, our calculations show that a 300 square metre greenhouse can easily be heated with a 550-kW container, even with outdoor temperatures reaching almost -30°C But the potential is much bigger than that. The temperature difference over the greenhouse is in this calculation only 10 degrees since we assume a DC output temp of 35°C and a GH temp of 25°C. If the DC output is increased to 55°C, then the GH area can be tripled to 900 m2.”

Contributing to a sustainable society

In line with these requirements, Systemair delivered:

  • 2 Geniox air handling units

  • 2 MUB fans

  • 12 pieces of Optima VAV

  • 1 Topvex Softcooler

  • 100m displacement duct diffusers

Initially, the greenhouse will grow vegetables. However, there are much bigger plans in line with Boden’s green transition. Håkan Nordin said, “We are also looking at aquaponics, combined vegetable and fish farms, and protein crops, such as insects. For sure, there will be opportunities for many exciting spin-offs to the energy inputs intensive establishments we have underway in Boden.”

“For Systemair, this market can be important in the future. Among our customers are several data centres that we currently help with cooling. As a company, we want to contribute to a sustainable society, and if we have the chance to scale this up. We will also be helping our customers to become more sustainable,” says Pär Johansson.

Geniox
Geniox offers ideal energy saving and low operational cost, with a long lifetime and the least impact on the environment.
Geniox
Geniox Core
Geniox Go
Geniox VOClean
MUB
Highly efficient, highly flexible, low noise box fans. Endless ways to customize.
MUB
OPTIMA
VAV controller suitable for supply and return air applications
OPTIMA-R
OPTIMA-S
OPTIMA-LV-R
+11
Topvex
Wide range of compact and standardised air handling units for easy installation and fast delivery.
Topvex FCU
Topvex FSU