News Analysis

Telehouse builds green datacentre to overcome London building restrictions

Cliff Saran

Datacentre operator Telehouse is to pioneer heat exchange technology to reduce the carbon footprint of its latest datacentre.

The £80m Telehouse West site will offset the carbon footprint of its nine-storey datacentre at the East India Docks by exporting waste heat for use in nearby homes and businesses.

Telehouse says it will be able to save up to 1,110 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and provide up to nine megawatts of power for the local neighbourhood. The energy savings is equivalent to boiling 3,000 kettles continuously.

The site is the first datacentre to be built under new building requirements issued by the Major of London. It recognises that the disposal of waste heat from cooling systems is one of the most significant sustainability issues facing datacentres.

Due to go operational in 2010, the datacentre facility will provide 4,625 square metres of secure storage space for UK businesses.

Martyn Bishop, senior technical director at WSP Buildings, which is managing the project, decided against using solar panels to generate power at the site. It would take 20 years for a solar array to pay for itself, he says.

But because the new building regulations state that all new buildings must incorporate some aspect of solar energy, Bishop will install a small array at Telehouse West, which will be used to power signs and electric vehicles on site.

Instead, the main energy savings will come from the water cooling system. Water leaving the datacentre is six degrees celsius higher than the water coming in. Given the large volume of water passing through Telehouse West, Bishop says any new development near the site could tap into the water supply to provide heat or generate electricity.

"Telehouse West is offering a connection at its boundary allowing other sites to connect to the waste water supply. This is being promoted by GLA."

If Telehouse is successful in delivering the waste energy from its datacentre back to the local community, it will be the first example of a private hosting company putting energy back onto the grid, for consumers, says Rakesh Kumar, Gartner vice-president.

"This is the way of the future. We need more collaboration so that private companies taking energy from the grid, can put energy back in. Datacentres need to be designed in such a way that when they have excess energy it is filtered back into the grid," he says.

"I expect to see more sites using heat exchanges, alternative energy sources among other technologies to enable them to get energy back into the grid." .

London energy emission building regulation

All new developments in London will need to demonstrate that their heating, cooling and power systems have been selected to minimise carbon dioxide emissions, under new building regulations from the Mayor of London.

The regulations call for builders to use natural cooling methods, rather than air conditioning, as far as possible, including ventilation, summer shading and vegetation.

Developments should evaluate combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) and combined heat and power (CHP) systems and solar panels.

For more information see: London Plan, 4A.6 Decentralised energy document.


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