Data Center Expert sees Biomass-Powered as the next step, Yea! another vote for the Grass Fed Data Center

Emerson's Jack Pouchet has an article on the step for Green IT being a Biomass-Powered Data Center.  I know Jack and I've been working on the Biomass data center (aka Grass Fed Data Center) for 2 years that Jack refers to in Missouri.

Biomass-Powered Data Centers: Next Step for Green IT?

Jack Pouchet

Over the past several years, those of us in the data center industry have seen dramatic strides in Green IT, primarily focused on improving energy efficiency. It is now much more common to see data centers designed to meet the LEED standards of the U.S. Green Building Association (USGC).  In addition, through the efforts of The Green Grid, the industry has adopted a standard method for assessing the energy efficiency of data center infrastructure, known as power usage effectiveness (PUE). This standard gives data centers a better tool for messaging progress when evaluating ways to improve energy efficiency.
Director of Energy Initiatives
Emerson Network Power

These are important steps. But, as President Josiah Bartlet used to ask on The West Wing: “What’s next?” I think onsite generation of green energy would be a major step forward. For instance, several companies, including Emerson, have addedsolar power to their data centers as a supplementary power source. Wind power also scales nicely to data center energy demands.

Biomass, however, may offer the best near-term route to onsite power generation as a primary energy source for a data center. Biomass-to-energy facilities convert just about any organic material made from plants or animals into electricity. Examples include wood and sawdust from forest slash or lumber mills, or agricultural wastes from plants or animals. It’s a clean, renewable energy source that reduces CO2 emissions.

Jack lists three Biomass projects.

Plans for biomass data centers are underway in several states. As reported in Environmental Leader last year, HP Labs has developed a system that could power a 1 megawatt data center using manure from a 10,000 cow farm – with enough electricity left over the run the farm. In Missouri, community leaders are pushing for a data center to be powered by grass, wood or hay.

Closer to completion is the Vineyard Data Center Park in Colorado Springs, which will feature 100 percent renewable power. It’s scheduled to open this year. The 50-megawatt facility has been dubbed a “trash-burning data center” for its planned use of bio-solids and municipal waste. Based on recent discussions with industry experts, biomass projects are in various stages of development in Ohio and Georgia.

Jack even mentions the idea of siting a data center at an old pulp & paper mill.  This is what Google did by going to Hamina, and this idea has been kicked around by a few us for over three years.

I started thinking about this after talking to a friend from high school about a paper mill closing in Hoquiam, Washington. We concluded that maybe it’s time the high-tech electronics industry that is rapidly displacing the need for paper could be the solution to reinvigorating these communities, buildings, and local economies.

Renewable baseload energy is coming to green the data center.

Here is more information about the Missouri project.