Waste heat from data centers: An investment analysis

Matti Pärssinen*, Mikko Wahlroos, Jukka Manner, Sanna Syri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
436 Downloads (Pure)


The growth of computing and Internet use have attracted the attention of the general public concerning the carbon footprint of data centers (DCs). Previous research has focused on the implementations of energy efficiency activities. However, little research has been published on the economic evaluation of waste heat utilization in the DC industry. This paper aims to provide an economic investment assessment of DC waste heat utilization. The contribution of this paper is the assessment of three different sized cases with realistic input factors affecting the net present value (NPV) model. We contribute to the ongoing discussion on the energy efficiency of DCs and provide a transparent assessment model for DC and district heating operators. We identified the positive NPV cases with high probability. The medium case has an NPV of 1.04 M€ (with uncertainty, the results range from −0.332 M€ to 2.57 M€). The large case has an NPV of 16.3 M€ (with uncertainty, the results range from 4.1 M€ to 30.2 M€). Both of these are clear-cut waste heat utilization investment proposals. The small case NPV is −48.5 k€ (with uncertainty, the results range from −264 k€ to 143 k€). The small case is sensitive to input factor values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-444
Number of pages17
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Data center
  • District heating
  • Energy capture
  • Energy efficiency
  • Heat pump
  • Net present value


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