Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cold Regions: The Future of Green On Line Computing?

Half of the energy that keeps server farms that makes cloud computing possible up and running are spent on cooling it, will locating this server farms to colder climes offer a “greener” solution?

By: Ringo Bones 

Facebook recently decided to locate their new server farms in Sweden to take advantage of the cold climate there. Given that half of the energy cost in running these server farms are spent on keeping them cool, then would locating them to a colder climate offer a more environmentally friendly solution to our increasingly energy hungry information society? 

There is now a “cold rush” so to speak for every major data firms to set-up their server farms up close to the Arctic Circle as possible to take advantage of the “free cold air” that can be used to cool down the banks of computers that keep their data up and running as a more environmentally friendly way of cooling the computer servers. Given that the regions bordering the Arctic Circle are not exactly “metropolitan” population wise, then there are not a lot of spots out there with a well-established electrical grid, after all, server farms need electricity to run before they can take advantage of the free cold air, right? 

Enter Iceland, whose abundance of geothermal energy had been harnessed to generate electricity for well over a century now could serve as a prime real estate for the coming “cold rush”. Jeff Monroe, CEO of Verne Global has since decided to locate the server farms of his data center company to take advantage of the free cold air in Iceland, not to mention the relatively low cost electricity generated with the help of the abundant and renewable geothermal energy of Iceland. And if cheap, sustainably generated electricity and distribution facilities becomes abundant way high in the Arctic Circle, then more data center companies could base their computer server farms there as a way to keep them cool in an Earth friendly manner.