In January I reported on the Green Mountain data centre planned for a former NATO ammunition depot inside a mountain beside a fjord in Norway. Well the fitted out of the facility is now under way.
In what is described as the ‘Greenest data centre in the world’, the use of the cold water is a significant factor in making it very efficient in its use of power. The heat from the servers is removed using the cool water (8oC/46oF) which is available year round from the nearby fjord.
In any case, the cost of power in Norway is around 40% less than in the UK, and can be fixed long term, which significantly reduces operational expenditure. Just as significantly, the power is hydro generated so has no carbon emissions. There are no carbon taxes in Norway, such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme in the UK (although after the Budget this week it seems that the CRC may well be abandoned anyway) nor is there a need to pay for carbon offsets.
Overall the savings in carbon when the 20 megawatt facility is fully operation will be in the region of 76,000 tons CO2 a year, compared with a similar facility in the UK.
The Green Mountain data centre has a lot going for it, but much of that comes from the fact that the buildings already existed in an ideal location in a country where hydro electricity is widely available. It’s really a one-off, but likely to attract some major companies to its very green facility. I suspect the green aspect will be the main attraction – it’s not clear whether the low cost of electricity will be reflected in user costs and it won’t be an ideal location for many.