Thursday, October 27, 2011

Facebook receives massive support for Swedish data centre

For the cost of 3 million SEK per work place has Luleå and the Swedish government convinced Facebook to build giant server halls in this Northern Swedish location (more in Swedish).

Server halls

Facebook says that reasons for establishment are good infrastructure, that they can use hydro power for the servers and that the low temperatures makes cooling cheaper as they can use outdoor air mostly.The halls will consume the same amount of energy as 16,000 private homes. While Sweden indeed has a lot of hydro power, it has also one of the most nuclear energy intense energy systems in the world. Expansion of hydroelectricity is very limited, so it is clearly an illusion that Facebook will use electricity from hydro power. The additional energy will come from other sources. In addition the halls need backup diesel generators; in case of a blackout, construction designs call for each building to have 14 backup diesel generators with a total output of 40 MW.
 "Facebook said it had looked at more than 100 sites in Europe, including 40 in Sweden. Lulea, a small town of 74,000 inhabitants, has Europe's cheapest electricity prices because of its abundant hydroelectric power resources. " writes The Guardian.
The combination of government welfare to Facebook and cheap energy clearly closed the deal...

Clearing land for a new Facebook server hall
The perception that new information technology is environmental friendly and will lead to a reduction in resource use is to a large extent a myth.

According to this report 623 TWh of electricity is used to drive the servers and the internet globally. That is an awful lot of electricity, just to give you an idea:
- The USA produced some 800 TWh from ALL its nuclear plants and the total electricity consumption of ther USA is just above 4,000 TWh. (EIA).
- The total electricity production in the UK was 382 TWh year 2004 (Wikipedia)
- The total energy consumption of Sweden was 398 TWh 2006 and the electricity consumption was 130 TWh (Energiindikatorer 2008).
From the post Green Internet - a pie in the sky 

Data centres to house the explosion of virtual information currently consume 1.5-2%of all global electricity; this is growing at a rate of 12%a year. (How dirty is your data? Greenpeace)

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