How data centers at public pools can keep swimmers warm

Installing a mini data center could become a more sustainable way of heating public swimming pools in the UK. A data centre, roughly the size of a washing machine, has already been installed under a swimming pool in Devon County. Seven other similar setups are in the works across the UK, BBC News reports.

It’s a hands-on partnership that helps pools and data centers resolve costly technical issues. Since most of the electricity consumed by computers is ultimately released as heat, data centers need to cool their hardware. Public swimming pools need heating but face skyrocketing energy costs pushed many swimming pools in the UK to close.

“We see supply and demand as two sides of the same coin.”

“We see supply and demand as two sides of the same coin,” said Mark Bjornsgaard, CEO of Deep Green, the technology company that provides pools with data centers. told the BBC.

Deep Green’s strategy is to immerse its hardware in mineral oil in this washing machine-sized box. The oil captures heat from the computers, and that heat is then diverted to the pool above. This configuration can heat the Devon pool to 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) approximately 60% of the time.

Deep Green’s computers suspended above mineral oil.
Image: deep green

This way the pool doesn’t have to depend as much as it usually does on a gas boiler. The data center reduces pool gas consumption by 62%, according to Deep Green. It is also expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with the gas by nearly 26 metric tons per year.

There are also significant cost reductions. Exmouth Leisure Center in Devon, home to one of Deep Green’s tiny data centres, expected its energy costs to rise by £100,000 (about $120,000) this year, according to the BBC. The data center should help shave around £20,000 (around $24,000) off that bill.

Deep Green says it covers the costs of the equipment, installation, maintenance and electricity that its technology uses. Instead, it makes money from customers paying to use its servers’ computing power for machine learning and AI, according to the BBC. And by diverting its waste heat to swimming pools, the tech company also saves money it would otherwise have spent on more expensive cooling systems.

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