Data centers are notoriously power hungry, with U.S. data centers responsible for over 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013. That number is expected to climb to over 139 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020, requiring an incredible 54 power plants just to meet demand. The IT industry as a whole is now responsible for as much as 10 percent of the world’s total electricity usage!
Thankfully, companies have begun to take notice of their runaway consumption, and we’re starting to see a new generation of energy efficient, environmentally friendly data centers coming online. Perhaps one of the more impressive examples of this new breed of data centers is the EcoDataCenter in Sweden.
Located in Falun, a small town just north of Stockholm, the proposed project will be the first truly “climate positive” data center in existence.
Not only will it run entirely off of renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydropower, and even wood chips from a nearby forest, the EcoDataCenter will also be hooked up directly to the town’s heating system and the excess server heat will warm the town’s homes.
“We are able to reuse all of the energy, all year long," says Jan Fahlén, who works at local energy company Falu Power and Water.
The unique design and use of the EcoDataCenter will allow the facility to function at a rate of 20 to 25 percent lower cost than even the most innovative data centers. Similar carbon negative energy systems are currently being studied, with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley predicting a regional system might be available by 2050.As the EcoDataCenter proves, with the right infrastructure and a desire for progress, data center leaders can help usher in a new era of responsible energy usage.