Post-production company to go ‘all-in’ on Deep Green’s heat-reusing datacentre in Devon

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London-based post-production company Dirty Looks has committed to moving all of its computing and storage workloads to Deep Green’s flagship datacentre, which is housed in a public swimming pool in Exmouth, Devon.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, Deep Green has installed a series of mini-datacentres at the leisure facility, and the heat generated by the servers is captured and reused to heat the centre’s swimming pool for free.

News of the project first emerged in March 2023, with the company confirming the deployment of 12 servers that were handling a mix of artificial intelligence, machine learning and video rendering workloads at Exmouth Leisure Centre in Devon.

According to Deep Green, around 60% of the required pool heat comes from its servers, saving the leisure centre more than £20,000 a year, and the deployment has reduced its annual carbon emissions by 25.8 tonnes through reducing the site’s reliance on fossil fuel boilers to do the same job.

Dirty Looks said it plans to move all of its compute requirements, which include energy-intensive video-rendering tasks, to Deep Green’s setup in the next 18 months. It’s also committed to helping the datacentre firm reach its goal of heating 1,500 UK swimming pools in due course.

“Video rendering is an energy-intensive process, and the datacentres that support the industry are traditionally very energy-inefficient,” said Deep Green, in a statement.

“This is largely because datacentres produce a vast amount of heat, and around 40% of the energy consumed by datacentres is spent simply to keep the computers cool.”

Dirty Looks has committed to achieving net-zero emissions for its organisation by 2040, and the firm’s founder and managing director, Tom Balkwill, said the company is pleased to be playing a role in demonstrating that high-end computing can “coexist” with sustainability.

“Rendering films in datacentres that recapture heat presents a huge opportunity for our sector to benefit the communities we are part of,” he said.

“By cutting the energy bills of swimming pools and lowering fossil-fuel consumption, we are contributing to a healthier and greener local community.”

Mark Bjornsgaard, founder and CEO of Deep Green, said the UK film industry is reliant on “inefficient and energy-hungry datacentres”, but the firm’s partnership with Dirty Looks demonstrates that need not be the case.

“Virtually all the heat they produce is wasted, ejected into the atmosphere, providing no social or environmental good to local communities,” he said. “If the [UK film] industry is serious about sustainability, this has to change.”

News of Dirty Looks’ plans to ramp up its use of Deep Green’s heat-reusing datacentre infrastructure follows the news in January 2024 about the firm securing a £200m investment from Octopus Energy’s generation arm to help support the company’s scale-up plans.

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