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Case 12.10.2018

Helsinki data center will heat 20,000+ homes

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Alpo Akujärvi

Head of Industry, Data Centers
tel. +358 (0)40 7276 131

Telia Company and the Finnish energy company Fortum have revealed ambitious plans for the recovery of waste heat from Telia's new data center located in the Pitäjänmäki district of Helsinki. Opened for business in June 2018, Telia's EUR 160 million facility is the largest open data center in Finland and provides services for Finnish and international companies and organisations.

Eco-efficiency features strongly in the design and operation of what is one of the most modern data centers in Europe. According to Fortum, the data center will produce up to 30 MW of heat when operating at maximum capacity, generating enough district heating for up to 25,000 households, for many years to come. Fortum plans to cut its CO2 emissions by 103,000 tons – equivalent to the annual emissions of 55,000 cars – by utilising the warm water produced by the data center's cooling system instead of using coal and gas to produce heat.

"Telia's new data center project will have a significant positive environmental impact and will probably be one of the biggest heat-producing data centers in the world. It also plays an important part in Fortum's strategy to combat climate change by reducing emissions. Fortum's goal is to be a carbon neutral heat producer in Finland by 2030," says Tommy Ström, Manager, Production optimisation and electricity trading in Finland, Poland & Baltics, Fortum.

Long-term approach for maximum benefits

The long-term agreement signed by Telia and Fortum enables heat recovery infrastructure investments that may not otherwise be cost-effective to undertake, according to Pasi Sutinen, Head of Telia Data Center Business.

"We are working with a 30-year planning timeframe for the new data center, which is very unusual. Globally, most data center plans cover approximately six years. This means that the heat recovery benefits can be sustained over a much longer period," he says. Sutinen is critical of the Power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio used to describe data center efficiency, which he believes can often give a misleading picture about a facility's energy use and level of environmental friendliness.

"Energy use easily accounts for the biggest environmental impact during the lifespan of a data center. Here in Helsinki we can source carbon-neutral hydroelectric power and then use the electricity twice – I can't think of a more eco-efficient solution that also makes good business sense."

Finland is a cool place for data centers

Finland's extensive district heating network and cool climate make it the ideal location for heat recovery from data centers.

"Our customers also benefit from Finland's extremely stable power grid and low electricity prices. Energy costs are about 50% lower in Finland compared to Germany, and Fingrid was recently named as the world's best transmission system operator in the CHARGE Awards 2018," says Sutinen.

Nokia has already announced an agreement with Telia for IT and service platform hosting in Helsinki.

"Telia Helsinki Data Center is a modern facility supporting smooth operations. It meets our strict requirements for data security, energy efficiency and sustainability. The agreement with Telia is an important step for Nokia in implementing our global data center strategy," says Nokia's CIO Ursula Soritsch-Renier in a statement.

Commitment to sustainability

Finnish data center and energy know-how has a great deal to offer international companies that are interested in minimizing the environmental impact of their data center operations, according to Alpo Akujärvi, Head of Industry, Data Centers, Invest in Finland.

"We are very pleased that Telia has decided to locate one of the largest data centers in the Nordic countries in Helsinki. It is a significant addition to Finland's digital ecosystem offering and also represents an important commitment to sustainability at a time when the whole world is looking for solutions to combat climate change," says Akujärvi.

Image: Telia