Innovation That Matters

World’s largest data center plans to run on renewable energy

Work & Lifestyle

The Arctic Circle will be the future home of the world’s largest data center, powered entirely by renewable energy.

As data centers grow ever-larger, their consumption of energy also grows, leading to criticism that the information economy is contributing to global warming. Renewable energy is already being used to produce clean water and power subways. Now a Norwegian company plans to use renewable energy to keep your data cool. Kolos is currently raising funds to build the world’s largest green data center, located above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway. The center will draw on hydro-power and wind for 100 percent of its power needs, allowing Kolos to reduce energy costs and offer very competitive prices for data storage. “It’s quite literally the lowest power cost in Europe – and 100 percent of the power is renewable on one of the most stable grids in the world,” Kolos’ co-chief executive Mark Robinson recently told the BBC.

Currently, Amazon’s cluster of data centers in northern Virginia is thought to draw on about 500 MW of power, most of which is generated using conventional methods. In contrast, the Kolos center will initially draw on about 70 MW, but will expand to 1,000 MW within a decade. When complete, the development will cover around 600,000 square miles (6.46m square feet). That will dwarf the total area of the current world’s largest data center – a facility in Langfang, China – but will be slightly smaller than a proposed development center in Nevada.

Kolos is not the only company to see the value in using the cool temperatures and renewable energy of the Arctic for data storage. Facebook has operated its own large data centre about 385km (239 miles) from Ballangen at Lulea, Sweden since 2013, while Google opened its Hamina data center in Finland the same year, using seawater from the Bay of Finland to cool the servers. Iceland has also become a center for data storage firms who take advantage of the cool temperatures and cheap geothermal energy. Kolos has already raised several million dollars for the project from Norwegian private investors and is now working with a US investment bank to secure the remaining funds. What other green solutions could help curb the carbon footprint associated with data storage?




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