Both Cisco and Microsoft will investigate the possibility of establishing server farms in Iceland powered fully by renewable energy. According to the Icelandic daily Morgunbladid, the Reykjavík Energy Company (OR) is presently talking to both companies to see if server farms could be run by geothermal and hydroelectric power. …
Now for the crunch
Can we get tech firms to build more geothermal power plants in the US and more wind turbines in the UK?
I fear a deed to good even for the likes of Bill.
It is nice to see these two powerhouses (no pun intended) collaborateing. Particularly on a project that is environmentally friendly. I hope this sets a valuable precedent.
Now that Cisco is so conscious of the environment perhaps they will begin to embrace the secondary market for their equipment. That would certainty cut down on e-waste. more on that subject at http://www.usedcisco.com
Ok, nitpicky, but is geothermal properly termed "renewable?"
Certainly it isn't likely to be "renewed" for at least a couple millennia. Even the good ol' Wkipedia says:
"It should be stressed that the geothermal resource is not strictly renewable."
Greenness in the eye of the beholder
"The energy is often so cheap that in the wintertime some sidewalks in Reykjavík and Akureyri are heated."
Indeed. Is not that the normal situation in northerly cities? Shops in Oslo do not get too many visitors in wintertime if they do not heat their sidewalks.
To make a "green" computer center, it should be situated where the heat it produces can be put to use. Instead of wasteful air conditioning, they should use heat pumps to provide hot water, be it for central heating or comfortable sidewalks.
Not really renewable
Um, no - Geothermal sources are not exactly renewable.
Although at first look it might sound like a limitless free source of energy provided my good ol' mother earth, electricity is usually generated by pumping water deep into earth heated by geothermal activity and tapping the resulting steam in the same way as coal-fired or nuclear power.
The problem with this is, the longer the source is 'tapped' in this way and the more load you put on the system, it tends to start cooling the geothermal source over time ... this effect has long been noticeable in the town of Rotorua in New Zealand where private dwellings commonly use geothermal sources for heating, in addition to the electricity generation utility. Nearby tourist sites such as Geysers over recent decades have significantly reduced in power and frequency of activity as a result.
How about cooling?
Isn't a lot of power taken up by cooling server farms? Can a cold and windy country use cold air flow to its advantage in cooling a room full of hot stuff cheaply and efficiently?
Barry: I take your point but Wikipedia concludes it's renewable (under Notes). That is not the same as saying it can be harvested at an unlimited rate, of course. If you put wind turbines too close together you over-exploit the wind resource in the locality and they won't produce their full output. Recovery will be immediate if you reduce the load on the wind, unlike with geothermal, where recovery will take a long time - but it will still happen, because the heat is constantly being replenished. I therefore think that geothermal should be classed as renewable.
Geothermal? More likely hydro
Martin: in order to use geothermal power, you need sources which are near the users. In the US that only affects some 7 million people in western states (http://geoheat.oit.edu/colres.htm).
The big aluminum smelters are already in Iceland because the electricity's cheap, but most of the industrial juice isn't coming from geothermal but rather from hydro, and that requires massive dam projects, very unpopular with most folk there (see http://www.savingiceland.org/) since projects flood huge tracts of pristine land.
While the anti-<globalisation/industiralisation/capitalism> weenies will scream and shout and protest (by banging on makeshift drums and hippie-dancing), if Iceland starts getting server farms Net access would get a lot better, cheaper and more reliable, allowing a whole new service industry to grow.
Definition of renewable?
>unlike with geothermal, where recovery will take a long time - but it will still happen, because the heat is constantly being replenished. I therefore think that geothermal should be classed as renewable
I dare say that oil and gas are constantly being replenished too, albeit at an extremely slow rate. Semantics perhaps but I guess the question is whether or not geothermal power is a sustainable energy source.
And the best part...
A big part of energy consumption is the air conditioning to keep the servers cool. In Iceland, you should be able to just leave the window open instead.
Heated sidewalks are hardly a new idea in Nordic countries
I live a lot further south than Iceland and heated pedestrian walkways are hardly news. Norway has had such things for as long as I have been living here (21 years) and presumably a lot longer.
You don't do it because energy is cheap you do it because it is cheaper than setting broken bones and a damn sight more comfortable than walking on uneven ice all winter.