All Is Safely Gathered In At The Green Grid’s Harvest Festival

Peter Judge

Peter Judge welcomes the fruits of another year’s work on data centre efficiency

Around here, October is Harvest Festival time. In schools and churches, children who have never seen a field join in celebrations of the things that the earth has produced.

These festivals now of course, include celebrations of other forms of harvest, including electricity and other energy, and I like to see this season’s industry events in the same light, especially the Green Grid’s EMEA gathering, which is happening this week in the Siemens facility in Belgium. In this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the Grid’s hootenanny has a lot in common with a Harvest Festival.

All things Bloom-ing wonderful

Green keyboard energy © pryzmat ShutterstockThese days, school and church events are generally thankful for all of industry, and like the Grid’s gathering, they make a point of praising efficiency and good stewardship, of environmental treasures and fossil energy source alike.

And while there seems to be a lot of gloom about, there are good efforts being made in the IT world and outside it to harvest energy from other sources than the fossil plants in our coal and oil. Elsewhere, power is being harvested from other sources originating with the sun, such as wind and tidal energy, and biomass conversion that comes from crops that are grown from the purpose.

Biomass can produce methane which is converted in fuel cells such as the currently-popular Bloom Energy boxes. It is worth remembering that this can take grown material out of the food chain – but it’s not always so.

Severn Trent Water runs what it calls a “concrete cow” – the largest anaerobic digester in the UK – which processes 100 tonnes of silage every day from the water firm’s own farm and produces 15GWh of electricity every year – while still making waste which is very good fertiliser for the farm.

The utility isn’t taking food from humans for this: it has very fertile land round its sewage treatment plant, but it can’t grow food there, because of historical trace elements that have gone into the soil.

There’s been a pretty good harvest of new data centres lately, and European telecoms operators are at the forefront with Portugal Telecom’s “largest in Europe” centre joined by France Telecom’s “Normandie” centre in Northwest France. At 16,000 square metres, the largest French site to use free air cooling.

Equinix has bought the Kleyer 90 carrier hotel in Frankfurt, a financial hub where a new Interxion data centre brings that hosting companies Frankfurt total to nine. All these centers celebrate the energy efficiency which reduces their costs – and carbon footprint.

This year’s crops

Which brings us to the Green Grid’s Harvest Festival, where the fruits of this year’s efficiency work are on display. It’s an incremental update on the group’s major crop – the standards which it is steadily cultivating, all year round.portugal telecom data centre - picture by Maximilian Xavier

The Grid has been nurturing its PUE specification (power usage effectiveness) through a process which will see it included in an international standard for data centre efficiency from the  International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The process is slow, but currently it has reached a draft stage.

The Grid’s gardeners will be admiring the progress of the prize marrow which is the EU Code of Conduct, and examine the progress of an allotment full of EU-backed projects designed to allow more efficient data centres.

But this is a Festival, not a horticultural show so, while, some data centres may be specially pleased with what they have managed to bring forth, and standards makers will talk glowingly about the progress of their crops, it’s not a competition.

There’s still a lot to do in greening data centres, but the Green Grid’s standards farmers have a lot to be proud of.

A version of this article appeared on Green Data Center News.

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