Potential of solar photovoltaics and waste heat utilization in cold climate data centers. Case study: Finland and northern Japan

Johannes Hyvönen*, Taro Mori, Juha Saunavaara, Pauli Hiltunen, Matti Pärssinen, Sanna Syri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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As countries worldwide seek to reach net zero emissions within the coming decades, data center sustainability measures are becoming increasingly important as these facilities consume substantial amounts of electricity to support globally expanding digital infrastructure. Yet, local renewable energy production and waste heat utilization are still rarely used in data centers, even though recent high electricity prices have considerably increased the economic value of self-generation and energy efficiency investments. The benefits and cost-effectiveness of data center sustainability measures have also not yet been thoroughly researched in cold-climate regions, where the data center industry is currently growing rapidly. Thus, this paper assesses how solar photovoltaics (PV) and waste heat utilization can effectively be integrated into different cold climate data centers, with a case study analyzing data centers in Finland and northern Japan. The modelled results indicate that solar PV systems can cost-effectively be used to provide renewable electricity to data centers in both Finland and northern Japan, with electricity prices having the largest influence on economic performance. The use of larger external PV systems is shown to be cost-effective at the higher electricity prices seen in 2022, whereas smaller rooftop PV systems and grid electricity provide more economic benefits at 2019 price levels. Selling surplus PV electricity to the grid and using waste heat for district heating is also shown to be effective in data centers located in Finland, whereas battery storage and snow melting are better suited to utilize surplus PV electricity and data center waste heat in northern Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114619
Number of pages15
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Battery storage
  • Data center
  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy
  • Solar PV
  • Waste heat utilization


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