Electricity and water don't mix? Our quest for innovative Green ICT concepts has turned up many unusual concepts doing just that. The latest is a proposal for submerging entire data centers.
We have been covering the use of datacenter waste heat to warm facilities from municipal buildings to swimming pools since 2009. That led to coverage of a 2011 Microsoft research idea for how individual servers might become 'data furnances'. That original post with excerpts from the researchers' publication is available below.
Three European companies have now brought the idea to market. Two explain the concept with a video.
Handling our gear's heat has always been an issue for installations large and small. ICT equipment typical took 1x-2x again more energy to remove its heat as it took to power it in the first place (PUE of 2.0+), driving both energy costs and carbon footprints. Early efforts focused on the two obvious tactics: make both the ICT gear and the air conditioning more efficient. We now see these augmented by innovative new approaches to the problem, ranging from seawater cooling to variable-speed fan retrofits.
Liquid cooling was once a staple of large-scale computing, but has largely been replaced by air cooling. We identified several efforts to bring liquid cooling to the server world in our first version of this post in 2012 and have seen continuous progress since. Here is the latest news.
Location is becoming increasingly important to the sustainability of ICT facilities. We've been tracking facilities in North American and Europe which try to leverage geographic features for greener operations. Our latest examples in the North America section of this post show how under-utilzed grid power is also making some locations attractive.
We have been tracking this topic the inception of Vertatique and it is consistently our most-Googled post. We just updated it to better present the material and add newer information.
We've been tracking the growth in mega-datacenters since 2009. These faculties feature technical and operational innovation that has overturned previous notions of limits on energy efficiency. But does the focus on efficiency obscure an acceleration in ICT energy and water consumption and in CO2e production? While mega-data center operators are claiming exceptional power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratios, we're still talking about facilities that consume 20-200 MW apiece and emit a considerable carbon footprint unless powered by renewable energy. Here's our most look recent mega-datacenter issues, including new statistics that suggest the mega-datacenter boom will cause a decrease in the total number of facilities.
Green ICT is concerned with all resources consumed in creating e-gear and operating ICT infrastructures. Significant amounts of water are used in everything from chip fabrication to PC manufacture to data center operation. This makes ICT vulnerable to droughts and other constraints. It has also dragged ICT water use into the political arena. We've just added a video from Google about how the company is using was water to cool one of its data centers.
Google offers frequent updates on its Green ICT progress. Here is the most recent, along with past updates.
Photos, inside and out, of Google's data centers. Note that most locations include a reference to some green initiative.
This has not been detailed on Google's useful blog, but Grist reports that "Google’s new $700 million data centers in Taiwan will make ice at night, when electricity is significantly cheaper, and use it to cool the buildings during the day."
Google announced in January 2012, "All of our U.S. owned and operated data centers have received ISO 14001…certification. We’re the first major Internet services company to gain external certification for those high standards at all of our U.S. data centers." Here are some of the specifics.
Vertatique posts have covered the attraction of locations that offer renewable energy, typically a combination of hydroelectric power and free air cooling from a temperate/cold climate. But about data centers in sunny climates? The question provided a good opportunity to check in on solar photovoltaic electricity (solar PV) back in 2009.