Fortum Oyj : Hepokorpi offers potential for utilising waste heat from a data centre
09/22/2021 | 08:47am EDT
A data centre is currently being planned for Espoo, to be located in Högnäs’s Hepokorpi in an area of fields and forest between Kehä III beltway and Bodominjärvi lake. The centre promotes Espoo’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Fortum has applied for a zoning amendment for Hepokorvenkallio, so that a data centre can be built in the area and its CO₂-free waste heat can be used in heat production. Fortum would not construct the centre itself, and instead the company is looking for a data centre operator to carry out the building work. Hepokorvenkallio’s local detailed plan will be reviewed by Espoo’s City Planning Committee on 30 September, and the Committee will submit its proposal to the City Board.
Hepokorpi is a suitable location for a data centre, because it has been zoned for industrial purposes and has good transport connections without being close to the city centre. The area in question forms a sufficiently large continuous whole to facilitate a planning permit being granted for a large data centre.
The location is also close to the district heating network and a hook up point to the power grid. This will help avoid the construction of new large-scale power lines and district heating connections, as well as the disturbance that these would cause to the residents in a densely built urban environment.
Fingrid will build a new main grid substation, which will also require some space. In addition to the data centre, the substation will serve the entirety of Espoo and ensure that the growing city has a sufficient power supply.
Espoo aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, and based on a climate impact assessment, the data centre will be a key element in achieving this goal. Fortum has committed to providing Espoo with carbon-neutral district heating by 2029.
The waste heat from the data centre will be transferred to the district heating network to replace heat generated with coal. Recycling the waste heat of one large data centre could reduce the amount of CO2 emissions by approximately 400,000 tonnes a year.
Oittaa’s recreational areas to be protected
Hepokorpi is located to the east of Oittaa’s recreational area. The local detailed plan being processed will not affect the area’s ski tracks and will, in fact, improve the local network of recreational areas, because a new recreational route has been planned to connect the recreational areas to the north and south of Kehä III as part of the local detailed plan.
The new construction will be adapted to the surrounding cultural landscape. A sufficient number of trees will be left around the outdoor routes and residential buildings, and the data centre’s rooftop height will be lower than the treetops.
The data centre will reduce noise from Kehä III in Oittaa, because the buildings will protect the area from traffic noise. Any noise caused by the data centre will not spread into the centre’s surroundings.
The data centre will also create jobs. According to estimates, the number of new permanent jobs will be roughly 200–300, in addition to which 2,000 jobs will be available during the construction.
Data centres are needed to achieve digitalisation
The amount of data, the level of digitalisation and the use of cloud services are on the rise globally. Therefore, more service centres are required, and operators are looking for suitable locations for them. This means that Hepokorpi’s data centre project is not the only one of its kind.
Finland has introduced amendments to its electricity tax, with the aim of attracting investments to Finland instead of the other Nordic countries. The underlying idea is that it makes sense to bring some of the data centre investments to Finland and, in particular, to areas where waste heat can be utilised.
Espoo’s City Planning Committee will discuss the approval of Hepokorvenkallio’s local detailed plan at its meeting on 30 September. The final decision regarding the plan will be made by the Council.