Underneath a mountain in Stavanger, Norway, in what was once a NATO ammunition storage facility, lies the world’s greenest data center.
The Green Mountain Data Center – a sprawling 21,500 square meter underground bunker – is powered exclusively from renewable sources, and is cooled by water from the regions nearby fjords. Fjords are narrow, water-filled canyons carved as glaciers slowly creep across the Norwegian landscape. Water at the base of these fjords can be as low as 8 degrees centigrade, providing efficient cooling for the enormous amount of heat generated by data storage operations.
The amount of data worldwide is doubling every 18 months, increasing the demand for high-capacity data centers like Green Mountain. However, energy is becoming a greater concern for these centers, with some projections estimating that up to two percent of carbon emissions are created by the computer industry.
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The Green Mountain Data Center, in contrast, has nearly zero carbon emissions, and nearly 30 percent lower operating costs than similar centers. The project was a collaboration between Smedvig, Lyse Energy and Ergo Group, and will boast the highest sustainability of any data center project currently in operation upon its completion in late 2012.
The project will undoubtedly inspire similar projects as companies increasingly look to find green and affordable data solutions. Google is already thinking outside the box, with plans for potential off-shore data barges, while Facebook is looking into data centers in the Arctic Circle. Whatever the future for data storage facilities, Green Mountain is setting a global precedent for sustainable efficiency.