Public swimming pools in the UK that were about to close due to rising energy costs have been given a second chance thanks to new water heating technology.
New tech startup Deep Green‘s chief executive, Mark Bjornsgaard, has tested an innovative concept at Exmouth, Devon. He has installed a small computer data processing center beneath the pool, and the energy generated by it heats the water.
The concept has taken root, and up to 20 public pools may be converted to the same heat system this year.
A symbiotic solution
“We built a small data centre in Exmouth leisure centre. Most normal data centers waste the heat that the computers generate. We capture ours and we give it for free to the swimming pool to heat the pool,” Bjornsgaard told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
The method works for both the data center and the pool because the heat from the computers warms the water and the heat transfer into the pool cools the computers.
“It’s great for them – they get to reduce the cost of heating the pool and reduce the amount of carbon they use, and good for us because we can offer cheaper computer services because we don’t have the cooling costs,” Bjornsgaard said.
According to him, the notion was part of a shift in the data center sector. During the past 30 years, massive buildings, often in the middle of nowhere, have housed millions of computers, generating enormous amounts of heat.
“As the world moves, we need 10 times the amount of computers and we cannot build 10 times the amount of data centers,” he said. “So there is a need to decentralize them and take little bits of them to where the heat is required.”
The energy cost at Exmouth Leisure Centre, according to Sean Day, is set to jump up by £100,000 ($122,266) this year.
Lightening the load of heavy energy prices
“The partnership has really helped us reduce the costs of what has been astronomical over the last 12 months – our energy prices and gas prices have gone through the roof,” Day told the BBC. “Looking at different ways of how we can save money as an organization has been awesome.”
Jane Nickerson, the outgoing CEO of Swim England, said she had been bombarded with requests to be included in the initiative.
“Mark had a target of seven pools this year and he has upgraded that to 20. This could be a game-changer, an absolute game-changer for us,” she said.
The effort to reduce energy expenditures comes as public swimming pools around the country close. According to research by The Guardian, England has lost nearly 400 swimming pools since 2010, with the areas of the country with the greatest health needs suffering the most.
As Swim England sees it, there is an urgent need to invest in the country’s pools.