Tiny data centre used to heat pool at Exmouth Leisure Centre as part of innovative scheme

Exmouth Leisure Centre Credit: ITV News

A pool in Devon has become the first in the UK to be heated by a tiny data centre as part of an innovative scheme.

The waters of the pool at Exmouth Leisure Centre are being warmed by a so-called 'digital boiler', which comprises of several computers surrounded by oil that heats up.

The energy centre is the size of a small washing machine but could save the leisure centre thousands of pounds

This hot oil is then pumped into a heat exchanger to warm the water, saving the centre potentially £40,000 on heating costs.

The data centre itself is around a similar size to a small washing machine but is estimated to be able to produce around 60% of the energy needed to heat the water.

The project is being run by a start-up called Deep Green, which charges clients to to use its computing power for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The company built the small data centre within the leisure centre and provides the energy produced by it for free. Six more sites have now signed up for the scheme to reduce costs.

  • Watch Mark Bjornsgaard speak about how data centre's could help cut costs

Mark Bjornsgaard, the CEO of Deep Green Energy, said: "It really is down to business now. We need business to get behind this and all of those businesses who have a target to net zero and want to save carbon - they need to migrate to this sort of compute.

"If we took one percent of the UK's data centre capacity, turned it into Deep Green, we could heat all of those 1,500 pools for free."

'We could be talking £30-40,000 per year, which is obviously very significant'

Peter Gilpin, the chief executive of LED community leisure, said the costs of running Exmouth Leisure Centre have soared since the war in Ukraine began - rising fourfold.

Peter said the company is now spending £80,000 on gas per year just to run the one centre.

Speaking about the new device, he said: "So what we're hoping is that potentially it could save 60% of our running costs.

  • Peter Gilpin says the data centre could help cuts costs by thousands of pounds

"So, we could be talking £30-40,000 per year of savings at current costs, which is obviously very, very significant.

Without the data centre, Peter added that the centre would have been at "threat, had we not got this sort of system."