The world’s greenest data centre?

Green Mountain – a data centre in Stavanger

Stavanger colocation data centre facility Green Mountain is opening what it claims is the world’s “greenest data centre” in early 2013

Green Mountain, a data centre facility just north of Stavanger, Norway, opening in early 2013, claims to be the world’s “greenest data centre”.

The facility was formerly used for NATO ammunitions storage. No-one knows for sure but it may have been nuclear ammunition. It is buried deep inside a mountain, starting 100m away from the tunnel entrance.

Today, the facility is being made available as a place to run your high performance computing, with 21,500 m2 of space available.

You get the benefit of Norway’s hydroelectric electricity supply, so no emissions of fossil fuels from the enormous data centre power consumption.

The cooling for the data centre uses water from 100m deep in the neighbouring fjord, which is 8 degrees C all year around, which means that the only power consumption associated with cooling the high density racks is for pumping the chilled water around the facility.

The pumping energy is minimised by using the siphon effect, like a toilet flush, sucking water up from the depths into a holding tank the size of an Olympic swimming pool, which is below sea water level.

The overall “Power Usage Effectiveness”, calculated as the total power consumption of the plant (including cooling, lighting, pumping, IT equipment) divided by the power consumption of the IT equipment is around 1.19 which is well below the average in UK of 1.4-1.8 so significantly less power is required to run the data centre.

The site is designed so if someone launches a missile into it from the sea, the missile will travel straight into a special missile holding area and miss your servers. In order to hit your servers it would need to turn right once inside the mountain.

The centre is owned by Peder Smedvig, a local entrepreneur who previously founded the Smedvig operator of offshore oil rigs, which was subsequently sold to Seadrill in 2006.

The storage site is sealed and has a special air mixture with oxygen at a level you can breathe but not high enough to support a fire (similar to the air on aeroplanes), which means that fires are not possible.

There are 3 separate fibre optic paths from the centre to Stavanger city, and from there, 2 different routes to the UK and 2 routes to Denmark.

The power availability to the site is estimated at 99.99997 per cent, with 3 independent feeds of grid power and in addition stand by diesel generators are installed for ultimate power security.

The power costs has been estimated at 40 per cent less than UK costs, and can be fixed for 10 years.

Data latency from London is 6.5 milliseconds and from Amsterdam 12 milliseconds.

The company argues that it makes much better sense to run your data centres near a source of hydroelectric power, because there are losses associated with moving power around the world, but no losses associated with moving data.

Or to put it another way, if you were based in London and wanted to use ‘Green’ power for your data centre, if you had the centre in London you would encounter transmission losses bringing the power from Norway. But if your data centre was in Norway, there would be no transmission losses associated with moving the data from Norway to London.

Also involved as “partners” are Norwegian IT company Evry Stavanger; engineering consultancy COWI Nordic, and power company LYSE.

There are 4 separate underground halls, and an administration building some distance away.

The space is being sold by square metre at rates competitive with cities in Europe and able to accommodate server cabinets with 20kW or more power requirements.

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