At our current pace of consumption, the world’s demands for compute power will quickly outpace the energy provided by our data centers. The solution is a global smart grid, and Europe provides a model for what that might look like.
Heather Clancy had a piece on ZDNet late last week, reporting IBM’s efforts to develop a solar array specifically designed to deliver data center power. This resonates nicely with a conversation I just had with Lex Coors, VP of Group Data Center Technology and Engineering at European data center provider Interxion. As part of a broader discussion on the improving green credentials of most data centers, Lex had a lot to say about cooling, about passing waste heat to the wider community, and about the need for hardware vendors to design computers that can run hotter. But on powering data centers, he pointed out a clear split between practice in Europe and in the U.S. In Europe, he said, data centers tend to simply draw power from the continent-spanning power grid. In North America, on the other hand, there is far more interest in data centers generating at least some of their power for themselves… and IBM’s new solar array may presumably have a role to play there. Luckily, those fog-bound Dublin data centers don’t need to worry about finding enough sunshine just yet.