Cloud computing goes green – and underground

In the chill of a massive cave beneath an orthodox Christian cathedral, a city power firm is preparing what it thinks will be the greenest data center on the planet.

Excess heat from hundreds of computer servers to be located in the bedrock beneath Uspenski Cathedral, one of Helsinki’s most popular tourist sites, will be captured and channelled into the district heating network, a system of water-heated pipes used to warm homes in the Finnish capital.

“It is perfectly feasible that a quite considerable proportion of the heating in the capital city could be produced from thermal energy generated by computer halls,” said Juha Sipila, project manager at Helsingin Energia.

Finland and other north European countries are using their water-powered networks as a conduit for renewable energy sources: capturing waste to heat the water that is pumped through the system…

Data centers such as those run by Google already use around 1 percent of the world’s energy, and their demand for power is rising fast with the trend to outsource computing.

One major problem is that in a typical data center only 40-45 percent of energy use is for the actual computing — the rest is used mostly for cooling down the servers.

“It is a pressing issue for IT vendors since the rise in energy costs to power and cool servers is estimated to be outpacing the demand for servers,” said Steven Nathasingh, chief executive of research firm Vaxa…

Besides providing heat to homes in the Finnish capital, the new Uspenski computer hall will use half the energy of a typical datacenter, said Sipila…

The center’s location in the bowels of the cathedral has an added bonus: security. It is taking over a former bomb shelter carved into the rock by the fire brigade in World War Two as a refuge for city officials from Russian air raids.

It’s always positive to see a community find something useful to do with a leftover church.

4 thoughts on “Cloud computing goes green – and underground

  1. Morey says:

    It’s always positive to see a community find something useful to do with a leftover church.

    Chuckle.. reminds me of some old acquaintances who got in a snit when the ATL Baptist Tabernacle got shut down and actually used for something other than a den of prejudice and similar iniquity. Riddance.

  2. Mr. Fusion says:

    Ingenuity can find ten thousand nickles easier than a few hundred bucks.

    A little here and a little there does add up.

  3. Cinaedh says:

    “…the center, when expanded as planned, will trim 375,000 euros ($561,000) a year from the company’s annual power bill.”

    Holy crap! That’s a lot of nickels. Let’s convert them all right now.

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