Facebook has opened  its new data centre in Lulea, Sweden, on the edge of the arctic circle, which is now handling live user traffic from around the world.

The data centre promises to be one of Facebook’s greenest and most efficient data centre, thanks to the use of designs from the Facebook-led Open Compute Project and the use of local renewable energy.

Arctic Cooling

Facebook first mooted the idea of a data centre in Sweden back in October 2011, and nearly two years later on 12 June, it has opened a which covers the area of approximately five football fields. All the equipment inside is powered by locally generated hydro-electric energy.

“Not only is it 100 percent renewable, but the supply is also so reliable that we have been able to reduce the number of backup generators required at the site by more than 70 percent,” Facebook said. “In addition to harnessing the power of water, we are using the chilly Nordic air to cool the thousands of servers that store your photos, videos, comments, and Likes. Any excess heat that is produced is used to keep our office warm.”

It is perhaps no surprise that Facebook is keen to express the green credentials of its new facility, considering that it has previously clashed with environmental pressure group Greenpeace, over its decision to locate its first wholly-owned data centre in Oregon using electricity from PacificCorp, an energy company that makes two thirds of its power using ‘dirty’ coal.

Open Compute

Facebook founded Open Compute back in April 2011. The idea of the project is to develop and promote “vanity-free” hardware designs that are highly efficient. These designs are then shared with the broader community. The project has a host of powerful backers including Dell, Intel and HP, amongst many others.

Facebook said that all of its kit within the Swedish data centre has allowed it to achieve a “pretty impressive power usage efficiency (PUE) number”.

“In early tests, Facebook’s Lulea data centre is averaging a PUE in the region of 1.07,” said Facebook. “As with our other data centres, we will soon be adding a real-time PUE monitor so everyone can see how we are performing on a minute-by-minute basis.”

Lulea is located on the coast of the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea, and it lies on the same latitude as Alaska. This means that it is the most northerly of all Facebook’s data centres, with the other two being located in Prineville, Oregon, and Forest City, North Carolina.

Winters in the region are long, dark and very cold. Indeed, for five months of the year, outside temperatures are below freezing point.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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