Zero Carbon Emission Data Centers: A New Model
Hydroelectric power plants are not new technology. However, the changing nature of data transfer technologies and the development of mobile data centers offer a new way of using this renewable and sustainable electricity resource — one that will benefit consumers, providers, and the environment.
We offer a new model: power consumption can be brought to the power source, resulting in zero carbon footprint data centers.
In Europe, hydroelectric power production results in the lowest greenhouse gasses and the least externality of any other energy resource.
Meanwhile, the increasing use of data has resulted in major demand for data centers. These data centers consume significant amounts of electrical power. When located in cities and other populated areas, construction and land costs of building these data centers must also be considered.
Furthermore, data centers can generate around 75–95 dBA, the same noise as a motorcycle. This can result in noise pollution for nearby residents.
Due to the location of the natural resources they use, hydroelectric power plants are often situated far away from the houses and businesses of consumers. Usually, they are located by rivers, on mountains or in areas of high altitude. This is because they use the force of falling or moving water.
As a result, connections between these plants and power grids must be built and maintained. Furthermore, electrical power must be transported to consumers and end-users, such as for running and cooling data centers. This transportation is usually over long distances and at a significant cost to service providers, customers, and the environment.
Mobile data centers offer a scalable and on-site solution to data center demand. We aim to construct a network of small hydroelectric power plants at selected locations. The power they generate will then be used to power on-site mobile data centers.
4G and 5G networks now offer data transfer speeds that make wired connections unnecessary for many services and processes. We aim to integrate our network of power plants and data centers into a cloud computing platform by using fast networks and cloud computing technology. This means that our remote mobile data centers can be used to provide data services for consumers remotely while ensuring fast data connection speeds.
The “fifth-generation” (5G) of telecommunications systems in particular is set to become one of the most important building blocks of society and the digital economy over the next ten years. Recently, the European Commission has allocated over EUR 700 million to the innovation and roll-out of 5G technologies in EU countries.
Support for and transition to 4G and 5G wireless connectivity will increase data center demand, especially in developed countries. Many of these countries are also obliged to meet greenhouse gas and carbon footprint targets. Wireless connections in developing nations — and especially in Western European nations — are stable and cover large population areas. This makes the use of hydroelectric power plants and off-site data centers a natural and economic choice for the future.
Due to their remote locations, mobile data centers and hydroelectric power plants offer a solution to this problem by cutting carbon emissions. Our model also offers several other benefits, such as removing noisy data centers from highly populated areas. This removes or significantly reduces noise pollution.
What is more, much of the energy used to run data centers is used for cooling. At least 40% of all the energy consumed by data centers is used to cool IT equipment. These cooling costs can sometimes be reduced by using on-site water cooling from rivers; using the same water as the hydroelectric plants use to power the data centers themselves.
Like mobile data centers, hydroelectric plants are very scalable. This means that small (< 25 MW) hydroelectric power stations will be able to power small mobile data centers. These can vary in size and scale according to demand and location.
As well as generating electrical power more efficiently, our power plants and mobile data center network will use hydroelectric energy that would otherwise go unused. They will meet energy demands that might otherwise have to be met by power generated by fossil fuels.
Energy losses due to reduced electricity transportation from hydroelectricity plants to on-site mobile data centers will be minimal. Our model will therefore also improve economic prosperity in host countries and help them meet their carbon emissions targets. Finally, mobile data centers can be constructed off-site and moved on-site, further reducing construction costs.