Geothermal Data Centers

In the pursuit of green practices and reduced energy costs, some data center operators are leveraging the Earth’s geology to produce cooling for their facility. Geothermal cooling systems include an array of vertical holes drilled into the earth’s surface that house a closed-loop piping system filled with water and/or coolant. The cool temperatures underground allows the piping system to serve as a heat exchanger. Below are two examples of projects utilizing geothermal cooling systems. Additionally, a data center project in Iceland is drawing on its unique geography to draw upon geothermal power.

American College Testing (Iowa)
Geothermal Data Center is LEED Platinum

The American College Testing data center in Iowa City, Iowa includes 4,000 square-feet of raised-floor data center space within an 8,000 square foot facility, which is cooled by a geothermal “bore field.” The cool earth which is penetrated by a system of vertical holes holding a closed-loop piping system filled with water and/or coolant serves as a heat exchanger. The data center also has an exterior dry cooler as a backup to the geothermal system. The geothermal system, among other environmental measures, not only earned the data center the designation of Platinum under the the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program, it adds value to the operation, according to execs.

Prairie Bunkers, LLC (Nebraska)
Prairie Bunkers Pursues Geothermal Cooling

Prairie Bunkers, LLC announced in 2009 it successfully tested geothermal cooling system at its 760-acre Prairie Bunkers Data Center Park near Hastings, Nebraska. The company plans to retrofit dozens of World War II ammunition bunkers into data centers, hoping to capitalize on interest in ultra-secure data storage. Also, the plans for geothermal systems will help tenants achieve LEED Platinum status.

Verne Global (Iceland)
Iceland Gets Major Data Center Project

Since Iceland sits atop an active volcanic rift, geothermal energy is a natural resource that facilities could use as a renewable energy source. Verne Holdings, parent company of Verne Global, announced a major new data center project in Keflavik, Iceland in a former NATO Command Centre. Verne Global’s 44-acre data center campus was under construction, but hit delays due to the global financial crisis. The plans include the facility to be powered entirely by renewable geothermal and hydroelectic energy and to use fresh air cooling for virtually the entire year.

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