Excess Amazon heat to give low-cost hot water to Tallaght area

By Hayden Moore

AMAZON are “thrilled” to support South Dublin County Council as they embark on their journey to reduce carbon emissions through their pilot scheme, the Tallaght District Heating Scheme (TDHS).

The technology giant, Amazon, has designed its data centre just off the Belgard Road with renewable energy in mind and the scheme will see excess heat generated by the servers farmed and redistributed to provide low-cost hot water and heating to buildings throughout Tallaght.

TDHS Energy Centre and Amazon Data Centre compressor

TDHS Energy Centre and Amazon Data Centre on the Belgard Road at the former Jacob’s Social Club site

It will operate by taking the waste heat from the large-scale centralised heating source and redirecting it into underground insulated pipelines for it to be delivered into properties.

To get to grips with exactly how the data centre produces so much heat, Amazon Web Services (AWS) told The Echo that they are the physical manifestation of “cloud computing”.

Like a desktop or laptop computer would, the computer servers in the data centre create heat when processing data.

“We are thrilled to support the District Heating System pilot project undertaken by South Dublin County Council,” said an AWS spokesperson.

“AWS is committed to creating lasting benefits in Ireland, particularly Tallaght which is home to a core part of our data centre infrastructure.

“We have designed the data centre in Tallaght to be able to capture and recycle excess heat generated by our servers to enable the SDCC/HeatNet Project.

“This excess heat will be supplied to the SDCC/HeatNet Project which includes an Energy Centre and a District Heating Network.”

TDHS Propose Network compressor

The proposed network

Tallaght Town Centre has been identified as having high heat density and in a document published by the council, they have revealed a map of the proposed network from the energy centre that is expected to see construction begin in “early 2020”.

It is thought it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in South Dublin County by nearly 1,900 tons per year when completed.

The first phase works will connect existing council buildings, a new private 1,424 apartment and 339 student unit development called Belgard Gardens and TU Dublin – Tallaght Campus to the local heat network.

Deemed “Phase 1” by the council, the network of buildings is referred to as “economically feasible to connect” and is expected to be completed in its entirety by the second quarter of 2022.

Late in 2023, the next phase of buildings will be connected and from the following year onwards the council has outlined several other buildings that could be “possible future connections”.

These include Tallaght University Hospital, Tallaght Garda Station, The Square and The Plaza Hotel, as well as new commercial and council developments.

According the council, the capital cost of connecting a housing development to the district heating network is around “53 per cent cheaper than installing an air-source heat pump” for developers and five to 10 per cent cheaper for customers than “alternative heating options”.

The council told The Echo that the Tallaght District Heating Scheme, which forms part of their Tallaght Town Centre Local Area Plan, is still “in a development phase awaiting confirmation of government grant funding” of almost €4.5 million.

Partly funded by the European Union’s HeatNet NWE project, the council is working with Dublin’s Energy Company Codema as its energy advisor and are also awaiting completion of the tender process for an “energy-supply company to operate and maintain the system when delivered”.

Member states of the EU have all agreed to drastically beging shifting to renewable energy, with Ireland targeting 70 per cent in renewables over the next decade.

AWS is providing the council with the heat and land for the energy centre for free as part of their plan for achieving 100 per cent renewable energy for their global infrastructure – which includes Tallaght – by 2030.

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