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London data center to power local community

The Telehouse West facility in the Docklands area will export waste heat from its cooling systems to provide energy for surrounding homes and businesses.

Waste heat from a new data center being built in London Docklands will power nearby homes and businesses, the company behind the project says.

The Telehouse West facility, which is due for completion in 2010, is being built by Telehouse Europe alongside the WSP Group, a sustainability consultancy. Work has started on the new data center, which will be nine stories high and provide 19,000 square meters of floor space.

In its announcement on Wednesday, Telehouse Europe said the $91 million data center would provide up to 9 megawatts of power for the local community by exporting the heat from the building's cooling systems. Green-energy systems and high-efficiency chillers are also being used to reduce carbon emissions.

An artist's rendition of the planned Telehouse West facility in London Docklands
An artist's rendition of the planned Telehouse West facility in London Docklands Telehouse Europe

"We recognize that any attempt to address the lack of space within the data center industry has to be undertaken with a level of environmental awareness," Bob Harris, Telehouse Europe's technical services director, said in the statement. "By making good use of the waste heat from the facility, we can minimize the environmental impact of Telehouse West and provide a valuable resource to the local community."

The Telehouse West heat-export strategy follows on from The Mayor's Energy Strategy, introduced in London in 2004 by the then-mayor, Ken Livingstone. That document called for large-scale planning applications to "include combined heat and power and community heating where feasible."

While the idea of combined heat and power was considered unfeasible for Telehouse West--data centers do not require extra heating--the heat-export element of the mayor's requirements was worked out in consultation with the Greater London Authority during the planning assessment stage.

The viability of this scheme was enhanced by the fact that a new housing development is also planned for the vacant site next to where Telehouse West will be built, according to Telehouse Europe and WSP's energy strategy report.

Telehouse Europe already has two data centers in Docklands. Its co-location facilities are used by many major ISPs and large companies.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.