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  • Writer's pictureNiina Ojala

A completely new type of district heating power plant started with Vatajankosken Sähkö

The data center and energy sector are undergoing a transformation. Climate change is putting pressure on energy efficiency, and services should strive for carbon neutrality and a circular economy. On the other hand, digitalization is shaping the market and changing old sources of revenue. This brings with it the need to automate existing services and find new business opportunities and partnerships between different industries.

Kuulea and Vatajankosken Sähkö have set out a pilot project in which intelligent servers located in the energy company's production facilities will generate both the computing capacity needed by the ICT infrastructure and harness the waste heat generated for heat production.

Lauri Hölttä, Production Manager at Vatajakosken Sähkö Oy, comments that there is a bright future for district heating.

Kuulea attracted Vatajankoski's interest as early as 2018, when the company, in cooperation with the French company Qarnot Computing, introduced an intelligent heater with a server inside to the Finnish market for the first time. Smart heaters act as a kind of “mini-computer room” and a manifestation of the circular economy, where both computer room and heating needs meet in an ecological way.

The first equipment will be connected to production at Vatajankosken Sähkö 's Kankaanpää production plant in autumn 2020. Vatajankosken Sähkö provides infrastructure, location and know-how for heat production and generates electricity for equipment. The electricity company receives waste heat from the servers for its district heating network.

Kuulea, on the other hand, sells computing capacity - the so-called high performance computing service - to its own customers, explains Marko Niskanen, Kuulea's development manager. This is a win-win situation, where several opportunities of reproducibility can be seen in the future.

Revenue from services is distributed on a revenue-sharing basis, but the biggest win comes for end customers: green and affordable heat and cost-effective computing capacity, which the climate praises. We believe that the service will really break into the market in the next few years, Niskanen comments.

The goal is to be the smartest energy company in Finland.

If the piloting that starts now is successful, Vatajankosken Sähkö is planning large investments of about 10 million euros in the project. The production capacity of the devices will total nearly 90,000 processor cores, producing 1.2 megawatts of thermal power.

Akseli Reho from Vatajankosken Sähkö sees the investment as an interesting opportunity. Our vision is to be the smartest energy company in Finland. Cooperation with Kuulea and Qarnot is a big step in this journey. Data heat is a great circular economy solution that eliminates the problems associated with cooling data centers and reduces heat production based on combustion.

Vatajankosken Sähkö has applied for funding for the investment from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

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