By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Cities
The Finnish capital of Helsinki is preparing to house what may be the greenest data center on the planet.
Hidden deep within the bedrock of a massive cave underneath popular orthodox Christian landmark Uspenski Cathedral, the planned data center -- which will be comprised of hundreds of computer servers -- is expected to emit substantial amounts of heat.
That heat will then be captured and channeled into the city's district heating network, a system of water-heated pipes that are used to warm homes in the city.
How's that for renewable energy?
The new data center is due online in January and is intended for use by local IT services firm Academica. It's a novel way of using the power consuming nature of data centers -- known to be energy hogs -- for good.
Data centers themselves have recently been under scrutiny for their expense, which can account for up to a third of a corporation's total energy bill. Together, those data centers add up: the server farms run by Google alone use 1 percent of the world's energy, and demand for more power only grows each year.
Temperature is part of the problem. Often, more power is used to cool large data centers than actually compute with them.
What's more, all that power consumption leads to emissions: data center emissions of carbon dioxide total one-third the amount that airlines produce, according to a Reuters report, grow 10 percent each year.
That's enough emissions to rival entire nations such as Argentina or the Netherlands.
The new Helsinki data center promises to use half as much energy as the average data center, and its capacity to heat homes will be the energy-producing equivalent of one large wind turbine -- about 500 large homes.
The data center is expected to shave approx. $561,000 per year from Academica's annual power bill, said sales director Pietari Päivänen.
Oh, and the significance of the church above it? Security. The cave used to be a World War II-era bomb shelter for city officials to escape from Russian air raids.
Nov 30, 2009
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"the server farms run by Google alone use 1 percent of the world?s energy" Source? That's a stunning figure. I'd find it hard to believe if you said "server farms use 1 percent of the world?s energy"...
"the server farms run by Google alone use 1 percent of the world?s energy" That is a pretty amazing claim. Where did you get this information. I have a hard time believing this is true.
I thought the cave would produce natural cooling. Wouldn't there be a net savings because of that? If it saves it is a good idea.
This is a tired old claim and no longer credible. Only the incompetent are now building data centres that lose 50% of their energy in cooling, across most of Europe / North America you can build a data centre which only needs chillers for a couple of hundred hours per year without any innovation. This 50% claim is like Chevrolet claiming their new car will save 50% on fuel because it is better than a Ford model-T. On the flipside the sourcing of the energy from geothermal is very smart and should actually be the focus of the PR.
The church mentioned is a Russian Orthodox Church. Perhaps Russians did not want to bomb it during the war years. Secondly it was situated on the outskirts of the city near harbor, and I think it is a island originally, or Peninsula. As I remember it over 60 years ago when visiting the church out of curiacity, it also was sitting pretty alone by itself there. Nothing much else were there at that time. This majestic church on top of the hill that one can see from everywhere in the city. How do I know this? I am a Finn born in Helsinki, living in California now. Good for Finns for their clever use of extra "green" heating .
You still don't explain the significance of the church. Although, I have a hunch you are implying something: Was there some sort of gentlemen's agreement to not bomb churches in WWII?
I really applaud the heat capture but at the same time they are saving energy use on the inside of buildings, the solar exposed exterior is being "radiated" and producing energy that is heating the atmosphere. Very progressive on their part I will provide a link where they can see time-lapsed infrared videos of buildings becoming urban heat islands. See what a coat of paint or shade does for a building. http://www.thermoguy.com/urbanheat.html