Russian web giant Yandex has switched on a heat recovery plant at a data center in Finland, which will use the waste energy from the Big Data processing site, to provide hot water for the town of Mäntsälä

The heat recovery system, announced at DatacenterDynamics’ DCD at CeBIT event in 2015, will pipe waste hot air from the data center into Mäntsälä’s existing district heating system, run by Finnish energy company Mäntsälän Sähkö OY. The hot water provided will be enough to reduce heating costs for the 20,000 residents by five percent, according to Yandex. 

Ari Kurvey of Yandex
Ari Kurvi of Yandex – Peter Judge

Win-win situation

“This is better than a win-win situation,” the data center’s manager Ari Kurvi told DCD in 2015. “It’s a jackpot.” Yandex says the project will produce surprising cuts in fossil use and emissions, cutting the utility’s gas consumption by half, and CO2 emissions by 40 percent.

The data center’s hot air output is able to heat water to 30-45ºC, and this temperature is boosted to 55-60ºC, good enough for district heating, using heat pumps at the heat recovery center.

yandex buioding 2
yandex buioding 2 – Yandex

The data center will be used for European projects by Yandex Data Factory, the Russian firm’s machine learning and Big Data division, Founded in 2014, and based in Amsterdam, Yandex Data Factory aims to help businesses use their data to improve their operations. 

“Yandex Data Factory’s ethos is built around identifying efficiencies, and this is a solid reflection of that,” said Jane Zavalashina, CEO of Yandex Data Factory. ”The future of successful business depends on the intelligent exploitation of data, which inherently requires an increased dependence on data centres.” 

yandex building 3
yandex building 3 – Yandex

Aerodynamics meets thermodynamics

The data center is built to make use of outside-air cooling. The whole building is shaped somewhat like aeroplane wings, with an aerodynamic profile that uses the prevailing wind to direct air through the facility at the correct pressure to provide cooling without additional power demqands.

One phase of the data center is operational  far, with another three due to come on stream soon. When all four are operational, the city’s district heating system expects to be able to stop using gas, and just use  data center heat.