Fortum – A Clean Energy Architect for Data Centres

Fortum - A Clean Energy Architect for Data Centers

Data centres make the digital world possible. Without data centres, there would be no Internet, no online mobile services, no streaming movies or online games. Because of the fast pace of digitalisation in the world, a lot of new data centres are needed. The Nordic countries are attracting data centre investments valued at an estimated two to four billion euros every year until 2025.

The Nordic countries are an ideal location for data centres for many different reasons. Our cool climate reduces the cooling need, so energy costs and emissions are inherently lower than in warmer countries.  The share of CO2-free electricity is over 80% in the Nordics. Fortum already has a 7.6 gigawatt capacity of CO2-free electricity generation and we are developing a gigawatt-scale wind portfolio in the Nordics.

Stable, safe and highly skilled societies that are geographically located near areas with excellent data connections provide a good growth platform for large-scale data centre operations. The Nordic countries are among the digital world’s forerunners in the development of 5G, for example. In advanced technology societies, data centres also attract other players in the sector, and digital expertise ecosystems are often formed around the data centres.

It takes a lot of electricity to operate a data centre. Climate change mitigation means that data centre operators must design their entire energy chain more meticulously: the electricity must be carbon dioxide-free, the operation must be energy-efficient, and the excess heat that is generated should be recycled whenever possible. Also material recycling calls for new considerations.

Fortum wants to be a partner with data centre operators in these issues – to be a clean energy architect.

Almost the whole electricity supply is CO2-free

Placing a data centre in the Nordic countries is a climate action due to clean energy. The Nordic countries operate in a common electricity market where already 80% of the electricity is carbon dioxide-free. New investments ensure that a sufficient supply of clean electricity will be available also in the future.

Excess heat can be utilized in district heating network

District heat is the predominant form of heating in the major Nordic cities. Excess heat from data centres is ideal for district heat networks. By utilising excess heat, households in urban areas can be warmed with the clean heat produced by data centres, and the data centres can cut their energy costs by selling the excess heat to the local district heat network. In addition to district heating, waste heat can also be utilised in operations that are heat energy-intensive, like greenhouses. 

We are developing new ways to recycle materials

In addition to recycling energy, we are also continuously developing new ways to recycle materials. We have recently launched an industrial scale recycling process for lithium-ion batteries that will lift the recycling rate of batteries to over 80%.  Read more >>

A partner throughout the data centre life cycle

As an energy architect and partner of data centres, we are creating the prerequisites to have data centres located in Finland, Sweden and Norway. We want to be a partner throughout the life cycle:

  • we can help in finding a suitable location
  • acquiring or producing clean electricity
  • utilising excess heat
  • managing energy with, e.g., demand response services, and recycling various materials

Our mission is to move towards a cleaner world, together. Advancing digitalisation and reducing emissions from energy production are big steps towards this goal. That’s why we want to enable new data centres to be located in the Nordic countries.

Antti Kaikkonen
Head of Strategy and R&D 
Generation Division, Fortum
Tel. +358 50 453 6308