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Applied Energy, Vol.258, 2020
A review of data centers as prosumers in district energy systems: Renewable energy integration and waste heat reuse for district heating
As large energy prosumers in district energy systems, on the one hand, data centers consume a large amount of electricity to ensure the Information Technologies (IT) facilities, ancillary power supply and cooling systems work properly; on the other hand, data centers produce a large quantity of waste heat due to the high heat dissipation rates of the IT facilities. To date, a systematic review of data centers from the perspective of energy prosumers, which considers both integration of the upstream green energy supply and downstream waste heat reuse, is still lacking. As a result, the potentials for improving data centers' performances are limited due to a lack of global optimization of the upstream renewable energy integration and downstream waste heat utilization. This study is intended to fill in this gap and provides such a review. In this regard, the advancements in different cooling techniques, integration of renewable energy and advanced controls, waste heat utilization and connections for district heating, real projects, performance metrics and economic, energy and environmental analyses are reviewed. Based on the enormous amount of research on data centers in district energy systems, it has been found that: (1) global controls, which can manage the upstream renewable production, data centers' operation and waste heat generation and downstream waste heat utilization are still lacking; (2) regional climate studies represent an effective way to find the optimal integration of renewable energy and waste heat recovery technologies for improving the data centers energy efficiency; (3) the development of global energy metrics will help to appropriately quantify the data center performances.