Apple’s planned Viborg data centre promised to offload excess heat to city, but experts are saying this will require huge investments on behalf of locals
Apple, like many of its tech rivals, is on the offensive with PR when it comes to green energy and data centres. But it seems a planned Apple data centre located in Denmark may not be such as sweet a deal for local residents as originally advertised.
Apple announced earlier this year that it would be building a data centre in the city of Viborg in Denmark, and that it would operate on 100 percent renewable energy, as well as selling excess heat from the data centre to the local district heating network in the city.
But it has emerged in a public council meeting in Viborg that to offload the excess heat, which would mostly be used to provide heated water to city residents, taxpayers are going to have to front large investments.
“It is the consumers in Viborg who will pay for the investments that are associated with utilising surplus heat from Apple,” said the director of Viborg’s District Heating Company, Morten Abildgaard, as cited by Danish website Børsen.
In February, Apple said: “The facility is also designed to capture excess heat from equipment inside the facility and conduct it into the district heating system to help warm homes in the neighbouring community.
“Like all Apple data centres, the new facilities will run entirely on clean, renewable energy sources from day one. Apple will also work with local partners to develop additional renewable energy projects from wind or other sources to provide power in the future. These facilities will have the lowest environmental impact yet for an Apple data centre.”
But further confusing the matter for local Viborg residents is the lack of transparency going on in the deal, claims Børsen. According to the news website, residents have got no insight into the Apple negotiations, as they are being held behind closed doors with municipal energy provider Energy Viborg.
Børsen quoted Danish District Heating energy expert John Tang Jensen as saying the project would require “massive investments” into specially-designed pumps that will be able to heat water from 25 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius, to get it to work with the local heating network.
On top of this, up to 5,000 homes in Viborg would have to be retrofitted with new heat exchangers just to be able to take advantage of the system, along with the city having to install an entirely new water piping system.
The chairman of a group of heating consumers in Viborg, Ole Jespersen, told Børsen that the project may require an investment of 250 million Kr (almost £25m).
“We have heard the figure 250 million Kr for investments in extension of Apple’s hot. So far, nothing has presented plans that give us assurance that the heat from the Apple provides a viable solution,” he said to the website.
“We miss openness and honesty. If you have given Apple special conditions, say so. By nothing to say, it seems as if you have nothing to hide. And that might not be familiar to city taxpayers. It is us who have to pay for it.”