Fjord-cooled data center in Norway claimed to be world's greenest
December 23, 2011
Upon completion, Norway's Green Mountain Data Center will be the world's greenest server farm - according to its developers, at least. By piping cool water from a nearby fjord into the mountain halls that will house the server racks, its creators hope to eliminate the need for the power-hungry electric chillers that the sadly fjordless majority of the world's data centers require.
Green Mountain Data Center will be housed within a former NATO ammo store inside a mountain on the edge of Boknafjord in Norway's Rogaland county. It will source water directly from the fjord year-round at a temperature of 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius). This method of free cooling will, the developers claim, give Green Mountain a "world class" power usage effectiveness, reducing the cost of operation by up to 30 percent.
Better still, it's claimed that the Green Mountain facility will account for precisely no carbon emissions. For resilience, the electricity supply will be fed directly from three separate power stations, so for the emissions claims to hold true, these would have to be clean energy sources. Hydroelectric power is abundant in Norway, so it seems a perfectly reasonable claim.
The official website goes one further, however, claiming that Green Mountain will have "no carbon footprint." That may be true of its operating life, but putting an eco-pedant hat on for a moment (green, pointy, no man-made fibers), one would have to ask if this applies cradle to grave, allowing for the supply and installation of equipment, any construction work required and the eventual decommissioning of the facility. One suspects not.
Green Mountain will occupy 226,000 sq ft (21,000 sq m) spread over "3 x 2 floors of Mountain Halls", which presumably means three two-story halls. According to Data Centre Knowledge, this will comprise 118,000 sq ft (11,000 sq m) constructed in two stages. The first will see the creation of 75,000 square feet (7,000 sq m) of colocation space; the second 43,000 sq ft (4,000 sq m) of containerized data racks.
It may seem ironic that a nation that already produces so much clean energy should come up with a low-energy data center, but in reality minimizing energy consumption is crucial if renewable energy sources are to play a significant role in a country's energy mix.
Green Mountain Data Center is a joint-development between Smedvig, Lyse Energi AS and ErgoGroup.