Bahnhof operates an underground server facility in a former military control room located under Vitabergsparken on Södermalm in Stockholm.
Among the thousands of servers housed in the Bahnhof facility, which is sometimes still referred by its military codename, Pionen (Peony), are two belonging to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Almost 30 metres above the facility is the Sofia Church, a towering facility built in 1906 that represents the highest point in Vitabergsparken.
“We use a lot of electricity to operate our servers and warmth is a byproduct of all that electricity,” Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung told The Local.
“The church is right above us, so we thought it maybe we could help warm up the church with our excess heat,” he said.
While Karlung couldn’t say exactly how much electricity the facility used, he said the electricity bill comes in at around 500,000 kronor ($75,800) per month.
According to Karlung’s proposal, the church could invest in the equipment necessary to bring the excess heat to the building and Bahnhof would in turn donate the heat free of charge.
He added that there are other buildings in the area which could also be on the receiving end of Bahnhof’s excess heat.
“This isn’t a new concept. It’s sort of like a geothermal heating system or a district heating system. The idea is to move the excess heat someplace where it is needed,” said Karlung.
Karlung also mused over the meaning of having WikiLeaks servers helping to heat a house of worship.
“WikiLeaks is concerned with the truth and there is a Christian saying about the truth and life,” he said with a laugh.
“But our role is to be like a modern postal service and remain impartial. WikiLeaks is one of many clients, but it’s fun having them as a client. We’re glad that they’re a client,” Karlung added.
Moreover, it would take more than WikiLeaks to keep churchgoers warm as they sat in the pews at Sofia Church.
“WikiLeaks has two servers, so they wouldn’t be enough to heat the whole church, but they could certainly heat part of the church,” said Karlung.
So far, however, the church has had a decidedly chilly response to Karlung’s warming proposal.
“I’ve been in contact with someone at the church locally and with the central organisation of the Church of Sweden, but they don’t seem interested for some reason. Perhaps they have a problem with getting heat from ‘down below,'” he said.
Stephan Palmqvist, the facilities manager of Sofia Church, explained that a number of issues needed to be addressed before WikiLeaks-generated warmth found its way to the church’s sanctuary.
“We only need the heat in the winter, but the excess heat would be sent year-round, so that’s something we’d then have to deal with,” he told The Local.
While Palmqvist didn’t mention any concerns on the part of the church with accepting heat generated by the controversial whistleblower website, he said the initial investment could be hard to justify.
“The question is whether or not we want to invest in something that might not be permanent. There’s no guarantee that Bahnhof will be around in a year,” he said.