Need Hydro Power? Russia's Got It

Russia has lots of hydro power. But can that make it the next big data center destination.

Rich Miller

July 28, 2008

2 Min Read
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Hydro power is perhaps the quickest route to a green data center, particularly if it's a greenfield (ground-up construction) project. Hydro power is affordable, available and scales to the multi-megawatt needs of the modern data center (which remains a challenge for solar and wind power). The availability of clean, cheap hydro power was the driving force behind the development of Quincy, Wash. into a data center hub, and is the reason that major players are sniffing around Manitoba and other locales with excess hydro capacity.

Om Malik has picked up on Dave Ohara's mention of the vast hydro power resources coming online in Russia, where RusHydro is building 5 gigawatts of new capacity and has plans to add another 20 gigawatts. "Russia's natural environment makes it a good candidate for big data center expansion," writes Om, noting the favorable climate for free cooling and the coming explosion of trans-Pacific bandwidth.

Larry Dignan at ZDNet notes that the availability of abundant hydro power may not make up for the many other challenges connected with doing business in Russia. Larry writes:

Conducting business in Russia isn't a simple affair. And before Microsoft, Google or Yahoo eye datacenters in Siberia they may want to call up BP or Exxon for a few tips on doing business in Russia. If you track the oil industry at all you know that private-state partnerships in Russia have become mostly state. Could a datacenter be held hostage just as easily?

The tension between Russia's natural advantages and business challenges may be seen in Microsoft's interest in the country. Back in January we noted that Microsoft was discussing plans to build a data center in Siberia and e considering locations in between Irkutsk and Angarsk. "Though Microsoft Russia is working on potential data centre construction in Russia, we are still far from final site selection," the company said at the time.

Six months later, there has still not been any official announcement of a Microsoft data center in Siberia or elsewhere in Russia.

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