Perfect Power? 3 Data Centres With Unusual Power Sources

Data Centres With Unusual Power Sources

A couple of months ago we looked at data centres which have unusual locations. Varying from the cellars of a cathedral in Helsinki to a disused World War II fort, the lengths that companies would go to in order to save money and improve efficiency were remarkable.

The article proved popular, so to follow it up we now take a look at data centres with unusual power sources. Whether the power sources are used to save money, improve green credentials, or change the perception of the business, all these locations have something unique about them.

Gas Guzzling eBay

eBay’s data centre in Utah is huge for a reason. The company has a staggering 300+ million items for sale at any moment and completes $2,000 worth of transactions every second.

To power that, their Utah data centre uses 400V power distribution with hot aisle containment, granular temperature instrumentation, and server power instrumentation. That 400V is primarily powered by thirty fuel cells – cells which turn natural gas directly into electricity. It means eBay only needs to use the local grid as a backup, making it more reliable and less prone to grid blackouts. There’s also the environmental aspect – natural gas means less greenhouse gas emissions.

Microsoft – Blowing in the Wind

Microsoft haven’t always managed to perfect their PR image. A litany of failed projects, botched releases and disappointing software often obscures their frequently excellent products.

They are trying to claw back some good will among both the tech community and wider population by using wind energy to power data centre in Chicago. They have agreed to purchase 175 megawatts of wind power in Illinois for the next twenty years – an investment which marks their largest ever outlay on green energy supplies and will provide them with a level of energy that is equivalent to powering 70,000 homes.

“Microsoft is focused on transforming the energy supply chain for cloud services from the power plant to the chip. Commitments like Chicago ensure a cleaner grid to supply energy to our data centers,” said Microsoft’s director of energy strategy, Brian Janous, at the time.

Apple Runs on Old Apples

Apple are well are that human beings produce a lot of waste – as a species we created 2.6 trillion pounds of trash in 2012 alone. It didn’t take them long to realise that all the garbage could be put to good use.

The cells at its North Carolina data centre now run on biogas that is captured from landfills. It’s a renewable energy of sorts – we produce more waste, we make more gas. Apple hope that using biogas will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming pollutants whilst also diversifying the fuel used to generate electricity across the North American continent.

Do you know about any unusually powered data centres?

By Daniel Price

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