Surfing on the internet, sending emails, watching a Netflix movie… All of these activities have become everyday habits for a large part of the world’s population. Nevertheless, just like most human activities, they come at an environmental cost. All of our online actions require data centers, which have two main hurdles: they require a lot of electricity both to use and to be cooled down, as they can heat rapidly when functioning.
Today, data centers account for about 1 percent of global electricity use, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and the figure is set to double every five years as a growing number of people access the Internet.
The problem is both the amount of energy used for data centers, as well as from the amount of wasted heat coming from this infrastructure.
Qarnot Computing, a French cleantech company, has developed the QH-1, the first computing heater, which means it combines an electrical heater and a high-performance computing server. QH-1 takes advantage of the heat coming from task processing and uses it as a heat source to warm rooms.
This presents several advantages, both economical and environmental:
For large companies, Qarnot offers an opportunity to use a green IT infrastructure, thus lowering the carbon impact of their energy-hungry computations.
For end-users, this solution means free heating while making their homes much smarter as the QH-1 offers Wi-Fi, an auto-scheduled heating mode, remote control, voice command, air quality monitoring, fire alarm detection, presence and intrusion detection.
And for the environment, it combines savings in energy used for data centers, as well energy used to heat homes. This technology is estimated to reduce by 75% the carbon footprint of computations.
1000 QH-1s have been installed all over France since 2014. They provide heating for social housing units and building offices for free while computing remotely for major banks, 3D animation studios and research labs.
According to Qarnot Computing, “if only 10% of computations performed in data centres were performed on QH-1 heaters and boilers, 26M tons of CO2 would be saved annually”.