by Timon Singh,
While data centers are useful, Cloud&Heat’s heating angle has raised some eyebrows. On the surface, it looks like a slam-dunk for businesses, but there are hidden costs. Interested companies first have to pay up for a fire-proof cabinet, which costs about the same as a conventional heating system. Cloud&Heat does provide hot water and heating for free, and even pays for any Internet and electricity bills.
There are other drawbacks. The units currently have a problem of matching supply and demand as data processing isn’t necessarily needed at the same time as heat is required. As such, units are getting buffering tanks fitted to store hot water until it’s needed. The system can be used in conjunction with other heating systems and the unit is also arranged to vent excess heat outside in summer when no heating is required.
Currently the systems are only available within Germany, but if the systems prove popular, there is no reason (security concerns pending), why they could not have a similar success on this side of the Atlantic.
Cloud&Heat is not the only company to offer such a deal. French firm Qarnot does something similar by offering domestic heating via wall-mounted four-processor radiators. However, the Germans are further ahead in widespread implementation, plus they are offering a free trial of the cloud services provided by its distributed data center.