A key infrastructure item in our sustainable city will of course be data centers and the movement of information. A beautiful aspect to information is that is does not need to be housed locally. In our city, space & energy will be a premium concern. If certain elements can be outsourced then thei will only work to making to city more efficient and greener.
An idea concerning a green information system is gaining traction right now and it fits in quite nicely with our overall agenda, that of a sustainable, modern, comfortable city. The idea is to outsource the storage of information to a distant data center that itself runs on renewable energy. The place I’m talking about is Iceland and they are providing this capability today.
Iceland has very generous amounts of both hydro electric and geothermal energy sources, clean energy sources. Large companies, banks and in our case a whole city have tremendous power requirements for their data centers. A typical bank may require thousands of servers to store and process all of it’s data and it’s not just the processing that chews up a lot of energy it is the cooling mechanisms. Every Watt of power that is used for processing needs an additional fifty percent of energy just for cooling. When you’re talking about a typical North American data center then that converts to a heck of a lot of CO2 emissions.
Iceland is right now laying a lot of cable both to Europe and North America. Of course they still have some hurdles to cross. They need to find IT staff that won’t mind living in such a remote location. There are some fears of latency in the system but this technological hurdle should be easy enough to overcome. And finally they will need to convince enough people to invest to make the scope of the project large enough that some economies of scale present themselves.
The idea of remote, completely green energy powered data centers is one that will dicussed thoroughly. It is a sound idea one that will most likely be installed in our new city.