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Published on June 28th, 2018 | by Kyle Field

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Norwegian Data Center Finds The Ideal Home In A Retired Mine

June 28th, 2018 by  


ABB’s solutions are helping an underground data center in Europe tap into local renewables to clean up its carbon footprint.

The unique data center was built in a retired olivine mine that allowed it to build 150 meters into the side of a mountain in Lefdal, Norway for a very specific reason: the mine is located adjacent to a fjord that gives the data center the unique ability to cycle the glacial runoff from the fjord into the data center for cooling.

Data centers use a massive amount of power – both to run the high density stacks of servers and for the air conditioning that is required to keep the computers cool and operating at peak performance. Constructing the Lefdal Mine Datacenter 150 meters into the side of a mountain takes advantage of the more stable, low temperatures below the surface.

“Cooling is crucial, because these servers generate huge amounts of heat. Because water cooling is so efficient, these server containers can run up to 50 kW of power, where you would normally expect just 7-8 kW with traditional air cooling,” said Mats Andersson, Marketing Director, Lefdal Mine Datacenter.

Building on that base of lower ambient temperatures, the data center took its cooling to the next level by tapping into the glacial water from a nearby fjord. Because the data center is located below the water level of the fjord, no high-capacity pumps are needed to pump water uphill to get to the data center’s cooling system’s heat exchangers.

Being located in a mine in Norway also means the Lefdal Mine Datacenter is extremely safe from a security standpoint and from a national standpoint.

Taking advantage of local environmental assets to minimize cooling needs cuts the electricity requirements of the Lefdal Mine Datacenter compared to a traditional data center but it doesn’t power the computer. For its base electricity needs, it turned to ABB for a robust medium-voltage backbone for the data center that ensures internal resiliency and taps into nearby renewable energy assets.

A stable source of electricity is the foundation of a robust data center, especially in the startup phases as the facility looked to fulfill its current needs of 10 MW of power, with its needs at full capacity estimated to be 200 MW. ABB built the critical power infrastructure that would allow the site to grow over the next few years as well as connections to four glacial hydropower stations and two wind farms, for a total capacity in excess of 300 MW.

To beef up the system and provide resiliency, ABB installed a decentralized uninterruptible power system (UPS) that allows each block of the data center to operate independently on its own power, if needed. The UPS has the ability to fire up within a couple milliseconds to ensure reliable power is provided to the servers until backup generators come online.

“At ABB we are very proud of our participation in this truly innovative project,” said Ciaran Flanagan, Global Segment Leader Data Centers. “The quest for energy efficiency never ends and is not just a desire, it’s now a responsibility and one we take seriously at ABB. We are truly delighted to be part of the team.”

The facility currently boasts nearly 120,000 square meters of white space that has been integrated into the retired mine, which the data center will fill with containers shipped in by Rittal that are then converted into homes for servers.

Images courtesy: ABB


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor.



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