Gym Login
Explore by cause
Explore by region

UK Pool Heats Water, Cuts Costs & Emissions with Tiny Data Centre Exmouth, England


  • Founder Mark Bjornsgaard squatting down at the Exmouth Leisure Centre swimming pool.
  • Inforgraphic showing how the Deep Green technology captures heat from a data centre to hear a Devon leisure centre swimming pool by using oil which is heated by the computers to then heat water which is used in the swimming pool.
  • Image showing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals | Gymtopia.org

Exmouth Leisure Centre in Devon (south west England) has become the first public swimming pool in the UK to benefit from the heat generated by a tiny data centre to reduce its energy costs. Deep Green, a start-up offering computing power for artificial intelligence and machine learning, installed a washing-machine-sized data centre into the community centre, which surrounded the computers with oil to capture the heat. The hot oil is then pumped into a heat exchanger to warm the water in the pool to around 30C (86F) for 60% of the pool’s operating time. This reduces the leisure centre’s gas requirements by 62%, saving an estimated £20,000 a year, and reducing annual carbon emissions by approximately 26 tonnes.

How did it start?

Deep Green, has been working on the technology for five years but our understanding is that this is the first time it has been used with a public swimming pool.

Objectives

  1. To reduce energy costs for public swimming pools. The national governing body, Swim England has stated that the total energy bill for public pools across the country rose to £1.25bn in 2022 up from £500 million in 2019.  Deep Green founder, Mark Bjornsgaard, said the company would also refund the leisure centre’s electricity costs for running the “digital boiler”. Sean Day, the leisure centre’s general manager has said that he had been expecting its energy bills to rise by £100,000 in 2023.
  2. To provide a sustainable solution for heating public swimming pools. It is understood that seven other England pools have already signed up to collaborate.
  3. To reduce carbon emissions.

Why is this project important?

  1. To tackle rising energy costs for public swimming pools. A UK audit found there were 3,170 swimming pool venues in the UK. Deep Green estimates that up to 1,500 community pools may make for suitable data centre locations.
  2. To reduce carbon footprint.
  3. To provide a sustainable solution for heating public swimming pools.
  4. To prevent the closure of public swimming pools due to rising energy costs.

Supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

This project supports seven of the 17 UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as follows:

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being – The project promotes well-being by offering a sustainable solution to keep public swimming pools operational especially as world energy prices are rising. Accessible pools encourage physical activity within the community. This contributes to improved health and well-being for community members.

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy – The project supports this goal by utilizing waste heat from data centres to heat the swimming pool, reducing energy costs and dependence on traditional energy sources.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure – By implementing an innovative approach to capture and reuse heat from data centres, the project contributes to sustainable industrial development and fosters technological innovation.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – The project helps create sustainable communities by providing an environmentally friendly solution for heating public swimming pools, reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production – The project promotes responsible energy consumption by repurposing waste heat from data centres and reducing the leisure centre’s gas requirements, ultimately lowering its carbon footprint.

SDG 13: Climate Action – The project contributes to climate action by reducing carbon emissions by approximately 26 tonnes per year, providing a more sustainable solution for heating public swimming pools.

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals – The collaboration between Deep Green and Exmouth Leisure Centre showcases how partnerships between startups and community facilities can work together to address sustainability challenges and achieve the UN SDGs.

Project resources

  1. Deep Green, the start-up providing the digital boiler providing its washing-machine-sized data centre surrounded by oil to capture heat.
  2. Exmouth Leisure Centre which is managed and operated by LED Community Leisure is the working name of LED Leisure Management Ltd.

Project results

The project has just been announced as of March 2023 and so the project results and outcomes are presently unknown but are expected to include the following:

  1. Significant cost savings for Exmouth Leisure Centre. Exmouth Leisure Centre is the first site in the country to benefit from the new heat recapture by cloud data centers. The surplus heat donated to the leisure centre by Deep Green’s unit will reduce the pool’s gas requirements by 62 per cent, saving them more than £20,000 a year. This is calculated as follows: The Exmouth Leisure Centre has a 25m swimming pool as well as a children’s pool which needs around 222,000 kWh per year to heat. “Our expected heat transfer from the kit is 139,284 kWh a year, equivalent to 62 percent of the pool’s heat needs’ says Matt Craggs, Deep Green’s Chief Technology Officer.
  2. Reduction in the carbon footprint of the leisure centre. One estimate puts the annual carbon emissions reduction at 26 tonnes.
  3. Potential to prevent the closure of public swimming pools.
  4. Potential to provide a sustainable solution for heating public swimming pools and other industrial and commercial heat needs.
  5. Potential to support a range of computing services such as cloud services, artificial intelligence, machine learning and video rendering.

 

Gymtopia Comment

Exmouth Leisure Centre’s initiative to use a tiny data centre to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions is an exciting project at a time when these important community facilities are facing escalating input costs. In some cases this is leading to the permanent closure of swimming pools as well as a reduction in operating times.

It is very novel to see how Deep Green is finding an innovative way to capture the heat generated by data centres and re-purpose it to warm public swimming pools. The project not only helps to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions but may even prevent the closure of public swimming pools. This comes at a time when the UK Chancellor is due to announce in the March 2023 budget a proposed £40 million fund for UK leisure centre operators to reduce carbon emissions for the long-term through the installation of more efficient technology.

The estimated annual reduction of carbon emissions by 26 tonnes is a significant achievement — equivalent to the planting of around 806 to 1,196 trees. The potential for the project to provide a sustainable solution for heating public swimming pools is exciting and we look forward to documenting actual results, when known. The Deep Green project could have a positive impact on other public swimming pools and leisure centres across the UK, given the current state of rising energy costs and increasing carbon emissions.

It will be interesting to see how this project progresses and if the technology can be deployed beyond the UK and to the wider global health and leisure industry.

Project by:Gymtopia

Gymtopia

Visit website | Email

Location: Exmouth, England
Start date: March 2023
Status: Ongoing
Impact: National
Submitted: 14 March 2023
Causes:
Charity: LED Community Leisure