Hydropower Makes Data Centre Carbon Neutral

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UKFast has achieved carbon neutral status through carbon offsetting and hydroelectric power generation

IT hosting company UKFast is claiming to be the first carbon neutral hosting company in Britain, after achieving the PAS 2060 (Publicly Available Specification 2060) certification of carbon neutrality published by the British Standards Institution.

Colombia, Antioquia Department - La Cascada

The PAS certification confirms that all of UKFast’s in-house CO2 emissions have been offset – from staff travel to data centre emissions. The offsetting has been achieved through contributions to three large-scale hydroelectric power schemes in Columbia (left), Brazil and Turkey.

At the same time UKFast has started work on its own set of small-scale hydroelectric power stations in Britain, which will contribute to the regional electric grid, displacing power from higher-emission fossil fuels. The company owns 11 sites in Wales and Scotland, and has already started work on its first site.

“Eleven projects will give us more energy than we actually need for our own business, even at the rate of growth we’ve projected over the next four years,” a UKFast spokesman told eWEEK Europe. “Eventually we will be able to sell carbon credits to other people, starting with our own clients, helping them to become carbon neutral.”

Power efficient data centres

UKFast currently has presence in two data centres, and will complete construction work on its own data centre in January, which will use evaporative cooling and free air cooling in order to achieve a power usage efficiency (PUE) rating of 1.6 or less.

Flowing water from one of UKFast's 11 schemes

The data centre will use around 2 Megavolt amperes (MVA – or roughly speaking MWatts) of power, and each of UKFast’s hydroelectric power schemes will create 1 MVA of power, meaning that the first two or three schemes will produce enough green energy to cover the company’s data centre energy needs.

UKFast is also involved in Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, which was set up to find market-driven solutions to climate change. The War Room brings together entrepreneurs, business leaders, policy experts, researchers, and thought leaders in 30 different industries – including IT and technology – to bring down the amount of carbon usage in the UK.

While being the first to achieve BSI’s PAS 2060 certification, UKFast is not the first British company to claim carbon neutrality for its data centres. Earlier this year, Next Generation Data (NGD) Europe, based in Newport, claimed to be the first in Europe to run a facility on 100 percent renewable energy.

Meanwhile, in Iceland, GreenQloud has announced plans to open what it claims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral cloud service, due to go live in the first quarter 2011, and Other World Computing (OWC) last year became the first US data centre operator to run its entire operation using an on-site wind turbine.

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