Make the internet a greener place with biomass

Kiowatt plant

The Internet has become so common that many of us have difficulty imagining what it takes to realize this digital world, including the number of servers and necessary for its operation. Most data centers worldwide rely heavily on fossil fuels to produce the electricity and cooling necessary to run the necessary equipment, what some call the "dark side" of the Internet. The statistics are eloquent in that regard: a single search generates 20 mg of CO2, while an email between 0,3 and 4 g. Thus, The 192 billion emails we send annually are equivalent to the footprint of 3,1 million cars per year. Estimates show that the Internet consumes around 1037TWh of electricity worldwide, which represents the production of dozens of nuclear power plants worldwide. This finally represents 609 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions of all civil flights for one year.

In this context, Bioenergy has a lot to offer, either by providing electricity or heating and cooling solutions. A great example showing such synergies can be found in Luxembourg, near the city of Bissen, where the Kiowatt plant operates.

Kiowatt uses wood to produce electricity, heating and cooling. The project started in 2011 a Luxembourg energy contractor and a Belgian company of the wood and bioenergy industry, decided to create a joint venture to take advantage of all the benefits of bioenergy.

Inside the Kiowatt plant, it all starts with a 17 MW boiler designed to use local wood waste that had not been used before. The boiler is equipped with a turbine to produce heat and energy. The electricity produced, around 21 GWh, is sold directly to the grid. The heat, which represents the most substantial energy produced (93 GWh) is used in three key applications: drying wood for wood pellet production, feeding the district heating of the industrial estate around the plant and, finally, two DataCenter refrigerators located in the polygon that provides a renewable source of cooling.

In 2013, this synergy was the first of its kind in Europe. Today, Kiowatt offers 15 full time jobs on the site and contributes quite significantly to the renewable energy goals of Luxembourg. According to expert estimates, 350.000 tons of CO2 will not be emitted thanks to the project, which contributes to a direct reduction of almost 15% of the GHG emission targets for the country!

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