Facebook announced that its newest data center in Lulea, Sweden, on the edge of the Arctic Circle, which will handle live traffic from around the world, will be powered by hydroelectric energy so reliable that it has been able to reduce the number of backup generators required at the site by more than 70 percent and achieve a power usage effiicency (PUE) of 1.07.
Aside from tapping hydroelectric power, it’s also using the cold Nordic air to cool the thousands of servers that store its members’ photos, videos, comments and other information. Any excess heat that is produced is used to keep its office warm.
Facebook says its ‘vanity-free’ initiative, the Open Compute Project design, encourages the development of hardware designs that are very efficient and eliminate unnecessary bits of metal and plastic, and it has used this concept in the Lulea data center, so all of the servers and power distribution systems in the center follow this concept of efficiency.
In early tests, the data center averaged a PUE of about 1.07 and the company plans to add a real-time PUE monitor that tracks its performance publicly. Facebook is not the only IT company tapping the Arctic for sustainable ways to power its data center. Google announced that it would buy all of the power from a soon to be built wind farm in Sweden for 10 years, to power its data center in Finland. Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook tells Marketwatch that the Arctic’s cold temperatures are conducive to the ‘open air’ method adopted by these companies to cool their data centers.