Heating pools is expensive. With the UK (and most of Europe) facing soaring energy costs, this could likely exacerbate the draft of pool closures over the next few years.
Running a data center is also expensive – it consumes a lot of electricity and produces a tremendous amount of heat. Even a rack of GPUs the size of a small washing machine could generate 40,000 Watts.
What do you do with all that heat?
A UK startup is providing an intriguing answer to that question: use it to heat a pool!
Deep Green Technologies, founded by Mark Bjornsgaard, has deployed its “digital boiler” at the Exmouth Leisure Centre in southwest England where it’s accounting for fully 60% of the pool’s energy usage (saving them an estimated £20,000 a year). It installs the mini data-center for free and covers all the electricity and maintenance costs.
The pools get their heating for free. So what does the company get out of the deal? Apart from a great deal of good publicity and the ability to move their data centers out of inconveniently-located warehouses, cooling plays a major role: you don’t need to invest in your own liquid cooling solution if you have a large tank of water at your disposal. This is truly a case where one man’s trash (heat) is another man’s treasure (also heat).
As to their business model, Deep Green rents their compute “for use in AI training and machine learning workloads.” In other words, crypto. As their whitepaper (read here) makes clear, the goal is to address the serious environmental impacts of global compute using “data furnaces” (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/the-data-furnace-heating-up-with-cloud-computing/) – in short, exactly what they’re doing here: use excess heat for good.
Deep Green also has future plans to install their devices in Bristol and Manchester in the near future.
Curious to hear how this has worked in a couple years. Corrosion and leaks are a bit.. bad.
Sounds great, but why does it have to be bitcoin mining? Why not something actually productive and useful to society?
They exist and use a high about of power. Data centers in general apply.
The issue is that a modern crypto server is usually purpose-built with graphics cards or worse, application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC). It would take a large amount of effort to convert a crypto server to a web server or data center. Considering the volatility of crypto value, it could be a waste of time & effort to install a crypto server, only to shut it down a few months later when it’s too unprofitable to run.
I support this… 🤴🔱👸