A new green data centre in London’s Docklands will provide heat energy to the surrounding housing developments
A ground-breaking new green data centre is being built in East London that promises to tackle the capacity crunch currently threatening the capital, and also benefit the nearby residents, whose houses will be heated by the surplus energy generated from the servers.
The nine-storey building, known as Telehouse West, will offer organisations 19,000 square metres of space and access to more than 300 telecoms carriers, Internet service providers (ISPs) and application service providers (ASPs). The developers hope that the £80 million project will provide customers with a one-stop-shop for colocation, managed services and global network solutions.
When the data centre opens for service on 31 March 2010 it will be connected to the national grid. However, in the future Telehouse intends to build its own generator buildings to power the centre using a combination of fuels, including at least 10 percent renewables. When it opens, the site will also feature solar panels on the roof which will provide the facility with 6,000kWh of power per year.
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The decision to use renewable energy sources has been partly driven by pressure from the Greater London Authority (GLA), London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to implement a sustainable energy strategy. London Borough of Tower Hamlets, for example, requires that all major developments over 1000m² incorporate renewable power generation.
However, Telehouse’s technical services director Bob Harris explained that what really “swung the pendulum” for the planners was the company’s strategy to use 9MW of low-grade waste heat to power buildings in the surrounding area. The company claims that this will save the community 1,107 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Telehouse has therefore built a network of pipes which will transport water, warmed by the excess heat from the racks of servers, to more than 1,000 homes in the area free of charge. The data centre also benefits from this, as the water returning from the developments provides free cooling, reducing the company’s expenses.
Although this scheme has received the full support of the GLA and other developers, Telehouse’s board of directors have expressed concerns about potential risks to data centre operations. Many have emphasised that the data centre must come first, and heating supplies second. Residents are therefore encouraged not to depend solely on the data centre for all their heating requirements.
“It will be a basic condition of use that any third party accepts that the temperature of the water offered is not guaranteed and will vary, neither will it be uninterruptible,” said the company.
Data centres worldwide are increasingly looking for renewable and sustainable sources of power and cooling to generate both energy and cost savings. Earlier this year the the world’s first sea water air conditioned (SWAC) data centre opened in Mauritius, drawing cold sea water from nearly 2000 metres down to cool its heat exchanges. Telehouse rival TeleCityGroup also opened a data centre in Stockholm, Sweden, which uses power generated by wind and hydropower and “free air” cooling to regulate temperatures for 4 months of the year.
Meanwhile, Telehouse has also announced plans to open a new data centre in Johannesburg, South Africa ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The company hopes the move will enable it to establish a firm foothold in Africa and build further partnerships within the region. The site is likely to attract multi-national companies intending to expand their physical operations in South Africa as the telecoms market deregulates and diversifies.
“With deregulation we can predict rapid evolution of the market over the next two years,” said Tim Parsonson, CEO of Telehouse’s partner in the project, Teraco. “Already we are seeing significant activity in the run up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and now is a good time for companies to build a reliable point of presence here.”