Friday, 26 June 2009

Data centres, canals and hot water

Last week I wrote about data centres in the UK potentially being built by the side of canals so that the water can be used for cooling. There is an extensive canal network in the UK and at least one major company has adopted the idea.

I've had some feedback from Deerns in the Netherlands (where, as we all know, there are even more canals) pointing out the drawbacks. It emphasises the point that you need to have an holistic approach to these solutions.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the post, for environmental reasons there is a temperature limit on the water released back into the canal (or river). But the experience in the Netherlands is that in high summer the canal/river water is so hot by itself that almost no temperature rise is allowed in the cooling water, meaning the cooling capacity of the plant is reduced.

To overcome the problem the data centre has to have its own chiller plant as a redundant facility. But the chiller has to be designed to work under the worst conditions, i.e. summer, so it creates a high power demand, which many data centres already have problems with.

So the use of canal/river water performs well on an annual basis, but to design a chiller plant purely for summer time use results in a over dimensioned plant. Ideally you would want to have a system that reduces this peak summer requirement. One solution, which Deerns is looking into, is thermal storage using underground aquifers, and the company is building the capability into a data centre in the Netherlands.

It does rather detract from the idea of data centres being built alongside canals in the middle of the country, though. Which is probably a good thing.

© The Green IT Review

No comments:

Post a Comment