Friday, 7 October 2011

Carbon-neutral data center powered by renewable energy, cooled by Iceland's chilly climate

Building a data center that minimizes use of fossil fuels is one of the gargantuan tasks facing the IT industry, yet at least one company has a simple solution: move to Iceland. With cooling freely provided by nature and access to both geothermal and hydroelectric energy, the UK-based co-location vendor Verne Global says it is on the verge of opening a “100% carbon neutral” data center before the end of this year.
“It’s all about the power,” Verne Global CTO Tate Cantrell says. “Iceland has great natural resources.”

Based in a former NATO facility in Keflavik, the data center is capable of supporting as much as 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of compute and technical space with more than 100 megawatts of power and 8-terabit-per-second connectivity to the United States and Europe, Cantrell says.

It certainly won’t be the world’s biggest data center, but Verne Global claims to be unique in getting all of its power from two sources of renewable energy. The energy in Iceland will cost less than half as much as power in the UK, Cantrell said. While access to separate geothermal and hydroelectric power sources will guard against power outages, Verne Global does have diesel engines installed just in case both sources of renewable energy fail. Verne Global further saves on power costs by taking advantage of Iceland’s natural climate to gain free cooling.

The Verne Global facility is 20 milliseconds from London and Paris and 41 milliseconds from New York, the company says. Of course, cheap data centers are all well and good, and Iceland is roughly centrally located between North America and mainland Europe, but some applications require low levels of latency that can only be achieved by close proximity to data centers.

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