New advancements in green technology and design are making the idea of a green data center into a reality.
>Without doubt, the facility is a triumph of advanced environmental design and will serve as a template for future construction. Indeed, activity surrounding renewable-based data infrastructure is picking up, with much of it being led by the burgeoning renewable energy industry itself. VIESTE Energy, LCC, for example, has hired design firm Environmental Systems Design (ESD) to plan out a series of data centers across the U.S. that run on 100 percent renewable energy. A key component of the plan is a new biogas-fed generator capable of 8 to 15MW performance. The intent is to prove that renewables are fully capable of delivering reliable, cost-effective service to always-on data infrastructure.
The question of reliability has always weighed heavily on the renewables market, but initiatives like the VIESTE program could help counter those impressions in a very important way, by establishing a grid of distributed, green-energy data supply. In fact, this is the stated goal of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which has gathered together a number of industry leaders, including AMD, HP and GE, to establish a network of distributed, green data centers that can be used to shift loads, scale infrastructure up and down and in general make it easier for data users to maintain their reliance on renewable energy even if supply at one location is diminished. In other words, distributed architectures improve green reliability through redundancy just as they do for data infrastructure in general.
But not everyone on the environmental side is convinced that renewables are the best means of fostering data center efficiency. In a recent article in the journal Nature Climate Change, Stanford researcher Dr. Jonathan Koomey argues that without populating existing infrastructure with low-power hardware and data-power management technology first, data operators are simply wasting precious renewable resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. For projects like the NWSC and VIESTE, then, renewables may make sense because they power state-of-the-art green technology. But not as an industry-wide solution–renewables won’t make sense until hardware life cycles run their course.<
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