Greenest server farm in the world

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Imagine a server farm – you would probably have rows and rows of computers in mind, where they not only make sure websites all over the world will continue to work as usual and for most of the time, but also the immense amount of heat that they generate. If you have watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, you would know what I am talking about, no spoilers here, sorry. To make sure the mercury remains within manageable means so that the computer components do not fry themselves, immense amount of energy is required to power whatever cooling solutions are in place.

As most of us know by now, Scandinavian countries do tend to be on the green side, as well as their corporations. IKEA of Sweden is a fine example, and Norway’s Green Mountain Data Center might soon be another idea for other server farms to emulate. Its developers claim that it is the world’s greenest server farm, where it will pipe cool water from a nearby fjord into the mountain halls which will actually keep the server racks in place. This will directly do away with the need for power-hungry electric chillers.

Sounds like a great idea, Norwegians, but what about most of the other parts of the world that do not have a single fjord in the vicinity? What other kinds of choices do they have? I guess that is just a rethorical question, but let us bring our focus back to the Green Mountain Data Center. It will remain housed within a former NATO ammo store that is located inside a mountain on the edge of Boknafjord in Norway’s Rogaland county. Water will be sourced directly from the fjord throughout the year, where it will have a temperature of 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius).

It is said that this method of free cooling will offer Green Mountain a “world class” power usage effectiveness, which will in the end help reduce the cost of operation by up to 30%. Not only that, the Green Mountain facility is said to not emit any carbon emissions at all. To make sure it works as planned, the electricity supply will be fed directly from three separate power stations. Green Mountain occupies 226,000 sq ft (21,000 sq m) spread over “3 x 2 floors of Mountain Halls”, which would more or less equal to a trio of two-story halls.

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2 reviews or comments

cbgjr Says: December 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Greenest server farm in the world….?, maybe.

I depends on where you draw the interface boundary.

If you consider the heat in the water returned to the fjord, then it is not very green, or sustainable. A fjord doesn’t have the kind of tidal and current flushing that occurs when a waste pipe dumps into an ocean shore. This means most of the waste heat will remain in the fjord. The result? A gradual increase in the temperature of the water in the fjord – reducing the efficiency of the cooling system and disrupting the marine ecosystem.

It’s all well and good to declare the facility as carbon neutral, however there are three power generating facilities supplying the server farm. Unless these are all hydroelectric generation plants [a possibility in Norway] then some of the carbon generated by the power plants needs to be allocated to the server farm.

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