Sunday, 3 June 2012

Heard of Keflavik, Iceland??

In the last two blog-posts we covered the importance of designing a green data center and how reduced power consumption can help you save money and go green at the same time.

One of the best and most effective ways of doing this is by co-locating [1] your data centers with other business in places where you can achieve both of these objectives. If your business allows moving applications and infrastructure off-premise, co-location is the best move forward.

The biggest advantage other than using renewable energy is the aspect of free cooling.[A]

Bloomberg has uncovered a few important locations which serve this purpose:

In Keflavik, Iceland; A former NATO air base as been converted into a new $700 million data center. Tapping into a ready supply of geothermal energy and cool temperatures, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, a former banker and the country’s first billionaire, is trying to capture a slice of a rapidly growing market: green data centers by creating the Thor data center. 

Investment in energy efficient server farms will climb to $41 billion by 2015, according to Pike Research. “Iceland happens to be a rare spot on the earth where there is a convergence of attributes that tick all the boxes,” says Jeff Monroe, chief executive officer of Verne Global, Björgólfsson’s venture. “You have 100 percent renewable energy. We can do 100 percent free cooling.”[2]

The Nordic region has becomes very attractive for large organizations to have their Data Centers located in this region. Google has its presence already in Finland. Facebook is following suit with its data centers in Sweden. Microsoft is exploring opportunities in Iceland.

How does Iceland Do It?

Iceland provides free cooling to data centers by using so- called "heat wheels," which funnel hot air out and cool air in. The volcanic island's power is provided by renewable energy from hydroelectric and geothermal power plants, with contracts locked in for as long as 20 years, according to Einar Hansen Tomasson, project manager with Invest in Iceland Agency, which is promoting the island.

Iceland is the only country in the world which can boast 100% renewable electricity, a fact that it is trying to exploit in attempts to attract foreign investment to help boost its economy which is still recovering from the collapse of its banks in 2008.
This is not the first time that Icelanders have tried to entice foreign business, but it has previously had little success with diversifying away from its three main industries of fishing, aluminium, and tourism; hopefully its hydro and geothermal power plants will prove to be sufficiently tempting.
Hordur Arnarson, CEO of the state owned utility Landsvirkjun, has said that the price of the electricity is also very appealing to investors, calling it “the most competitive price in Europe.” Investors have the opportunity in their contracts to lock the favourable rates for a dozen years or more, very appealing with the current price volatility, and the uncertainty of future prices.[3]

Most Nordi countries also have a strong reliance on renewable energy and hence, green data centers are the next change agent for these regions. 

Google in Belgium & Finland:

See a short video showing how Google uses Free Cooling: