“Another possibility, said Amanda Brock, Chief Executive of OpenUK, a not-for-profit that supports open source collaboration and technology, is to explore the possibility of using waste heat from so-called ‘edge’ data centers, to support local communities and businesses, which today includes lobster farms in Finland and greenhouses in the Netherlands. OpenUK itself is developing a blueprint for a carbon-negative, edge data center, which it plans to unveil on 11 November at the United Nations’ COP26 Climate Change Conference in the UK.
A significant problem when trying to introduce edge data centers in the UK though, pointed out Booth is a lack of local government understanding of what they are and what benefits they could bring:
“If you’re using the district heating grid, you need the buy-in of local authorities. It has to be put in the master plan. But where the disconnect is happening is that there’s a lack of awareness among planning people, and data center operators, who are miles apart. Docklands, Slough and Manchester are the UK’s three main data center hubs and there the local authority planners are on the job, but if you go to Birmingham, for example, they’ll ask ‘What is a data center?’ So if you’re going to have edge sites up and down the country, there has to be more guidance.”