MSc Thesis AMS Institute - Datacenters as residual heat source for district heating in residential neighbourhoods of Amsterdam

By Marjolein ten Haaft

District heating is considered as an alternative heating system for the natural gas heating systems for households. The ability to heat and supply hot water to buildings of households is essential in cities and the transition to an alternative is necessary due to the depletion of fossil fuels and limits on carbon dioxide per country and cities since the Paris Climate Agreement. Fundamental in district heating is the conscious choice for the usage of local heat resources that would otherwise be wasted.

Datacenters are chosen as local heat source to investigate as heat supplying source for district heating due to their constant production of residual heat, which is a result of the operation of the data servers. Datacenters are considered as a sustainable heat source for district heating when the electricity use of the DC is supplied from renewable energy sources.

The relevance of this research on residual heat supply from datacenters for district heating for residential
neighbourhoods is based on:
- Amount of heat supply from datacenters for a district heating operator to secure heat supply from the
district heating to residential neighbourhoods.
- Datacenters are not necessarily integrated in the energy sector, which will imply a new role and
responsibilities for the datacenter operators and for the actors already integrated in district heating.

This has led to the following main research question:
To what extent can heat residual heat from datacenters be integrated in district heating in terms of technical and institutional feasibility and does a framework for institutional mapping contribute to finding the institutional feasibility?

The first part of the research question focuses on finding the extent of residual heat supply from datacenters and the feasibility of district heating systems and the involved actors that encompasses the integration of datacenters with district heating. The second part of the research question focuses on the effectiveness the application of a institutional mapping methodology to assess the institutional feasibility.

The city of Amsterdam is used as case for this research since a high amount of datacenters and are present in Amsterdam. Besides the datacenters, the actors that are involved with district heating are also included in this research. Six actor groups were considered: datacenters, retailers and utility companies, technical consultancy and manufacturers for district heating, municipalities, grid operators, law and policy makers.

Please find the link to this document on our Figshare repository here.

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