HP opens first wind-cooled green data center

Hewlett-Packard has officially opened its newest green data center in northeast England, cooled entirely by cold wind blowing off the North Sea.

HP Enterprise Services says its new 360,00 sq. ft. Wynyard center is 40 percent more energy-efficient than conventional data centers thanks to its harnessing of wind to lower temperatures of IT equipment and plant rooms.

Data centers are known to be electrical power hogs and major carbon emissions culprits. Traditional data centers use thousands of megawatt of electricty per year. Much of that energy usage and emissions are the result of cooling systems. HP’s data center, is trying to take a more intelligent approach by harnessing the natural cold winds.

The system keeps the hall at a constant 24 degrees Celsius, or approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The outside temperature only rises above that for about 20 hours per year. (The facility uses traditional chillers for those occasions.)

By 2011, HP expects the average U.K. data center to spend $15.33 million per year on cooling systems. That means efficiency and going green is a smart financial move, too.

Here’s how Wynyard cut its carbon footprint:

  • Eight 2.2 meter-diameter steel and plastic fans in each of the four halls in the data center are used to supply air. Another eight are used to exhaust air.
  • A mixing chamber in the facility recirculates air to maintain conditions in the 5m-high pressurized plenum, or cavity, below the computer equipment.
  • There are 8,100 square meters of technical space at an average capacity of 2,260 watts per square meter to a tier 3 standard.
  • Humidification and cooling coils in the data center tune the outside air condition, while modular filters remove contaminants.
  • The facility is harvesting rainwater, which it filters and stores in 80,000-liter tanks. It uses this water to maintain proper humidity levels in the air that’s brought in from outside.
  • The facility uses light-colored server racks because they reflect light, allowing for 40 percent less lighting to be installed compared to using black cabinets.

The average price per kilowatt-hour? About $0.117, which will save Wynyard approximately $1.4 million per hall with a carbon footprint of “less than half” the competition.

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