Scottish Server Farms Team on Tidal Power

Two huge data center projects in Scotland will share energy generated by a tidal power generation project, hoping their united vision will make Scotland a hub for sustainable data centers.

Rich Miller

January 28, 2009

3 Min Read
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A view of one of the tidal power turbines developed by Atlantis Resources.


A view of one of the tidal power turbines developed by Atlantis Resources.

Two huge data center projects in Scotland will share energy generated by a tidal power generation project in the Pentland Firth, hoping their united vision will make Scotland a hub for sustainable data centers. The unusual deal leverages the strengths of the two partners and their ambitious projects:

On Jan. 22 the companies announced a strategic alliance in which IVI will purchase power generated by a 30 megawatt tidal generation project Atlantis is developing in the Pentland Firth, and IVI will handle marketing and leasing for both data center projects.

The new partners say the alliance will make Atlantis' tidal power projects more feasible, which in turn will make Scotland an attractive location for companies seeking to boost the use of renewable energy sources in their data centers.      

'Collaborating with IVI allows Atlantis to concentrate on delivering the tidal current power infrastructure while IVI deliver the customers for both our data farms," said Dr. James Mitchell, head of business development for Atlantis. "In bringing together Scotland’s two most compelling data centre projects, Atlantis’ 'Blue Datacentre' and IVI’s Alba 1 offer a unique combination of services to the data centre market under a single banner."

This alliance will cement the position of both IVI and Atlantis as world leaders in their respective fields," said IVI chairman Peter Hewkin. "Our relationship with Atlantis will also act as an enabler for the data centre industry to move to Scotland and we expect we will soon witness a 'Green Rush' to Scotland."

Atlantis  plans for a data center driven by tidal power closely resemble elements of Google’s proposed floating data barges that use the ocean for power and cooling. The data center is planned for Scotland’s Pentland Firth, which separates the Orkney Islands from the Scottish mainland, and would require about 150 megawatts of power. The data center would use grid power at first, but later generate its own energy using tide-powered turbines developed by Atlantis, in which Morgan Stanley is a major shareholder. 

IVI and Atlantis say they are working with economic development agencies and stragetic partners to identify locations for tidal power projects near both data centers. IVI's Alba 1 project also plans to use wind, hydro and biomass renewable energy sources.

Atlantis has developed two turbine systems, the Nereus for shallow water and the Solon for water deeper than 100 feet.  In tests last fall off the coast of Singapore, a Solon turbine was able to generate 500kW of energy in water flowing at 8 knots. Atlantis said the results demonstrated that Solon was "the most efficient tidal turbine ever ocean tested.  

Google has filed a patent for a floating data centers located 3 to 7 miles from shore, which would use wave action to generate electricity. Google’s patent describes "wave snakes" of floating cylinders like those developed by the UK company Pelamis.

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