CAN: Grower planning to grow tomatoes using heat from computers

There are more than seven million data centers in the world, housing servers that store massive amounts of digital information. They act as the world’s IT brain or hive, receiving and transmitting all sorts of information and enabling everyday conveniences like online shopping. But these facilities, which are notorious for their high electricity consumption and enormous carbon footprints, may soon have a new spin-off function: helping grow food.

A Canadian company called QScale is developing a $1-billion 130-acre data center campus in Lévis, Quebec, and will use the warmth that emanates from its servers to grow more than 80,000 tonnes of produce in adjacent greenhouses every year.

Indoor farming, which is often hailed as the future of food production, is also very energy-intensive. So being able to recycle some of the heat from data centers could be a big win for both.

“Data centers consume something on the order [of] 4% of the planet’s energy. So if we could use that as a heat source, we could kill two birds with one stone,” said QScale’s co-founder and head of strategy, Vincent Thibault, in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada.


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