According to the ZDF as much CO2 as all air traffic. According to a study by the Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability, emissions could double in the next ten years. Companies are therefore increasingly looking for more climate-friendly ways to operate their data centers.
One example is Windcloud, a company that operates a CO2-positive data center in the North Frisian community of Enge-Sande. According to FAZ the Server and the cooling of the data center are 98 percent powered by electricity generated in offshore wind farms in the North Sea. The remaining electricity is accounted for by gas and solar.
Windcloud removes CO2 from the atmosphere
The data center is CO2-positive thanks to the greenhouses installed one floor above the servers, where microalgae are cultivated. In winter, the necessary 34 degrees Celsius are achieved via the waste heat from the servers; in summer, the air flow from the cooling system ensures that temperatures are not too high when exposed to direct sunlight.
The algae are harvested once or twice a week by the company Novagreen, which processes them and sells them to the food industry as an ingredient for food supplements.
Alternative to district heating
Other data centers often sell their waste heat as heating energy. However, this is only possible in regions where there is a developed district heating network. In addition, complex water cooling of the server components is possible, which is almost only used in very large data centers. In many data centers, the valuable heating energy therefore "fizzles out" unused in the environment.
Another advantage of the Windcloud concept is that the energy can be used all year round, whereas there are only a few months of use per year when waste heat is fed into the district heating network. Disadvantages that increase the expense of Windcloud's algae farm project is the need for additional UV light sources in winter and the additional maintenance and space requirements of the greenhouses.
Feasibility study with 30 server cabinets
According to Windcloud, the comparatively small data center in Enge-Sande with only 30 server cabinets mainly serves as a feasibility study for the concept. Together with Dell EMC, the idea is now to be scaled on an industrial scale.
To this end, a further data centre is planned in Bramstedtlund in North Frisia with a power consumption of 1 megawatt. If used continuously, the data center would thus require 8760 megawatt hours per year.