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Cool Data Centres, Hot Geothermal

From Google's pioneering geothermal-powered data centre in Nevada to the latest project by G42 in Kenya, geothermal cooling is revolutionising how data centres operate. This sustainable approach not only reduces energy consumption but also supports environmental goals.

 

Let's delve deeper into the benefits.



Benefits of Shallow Geothermal Cooling for Data Centres


Reduced Energy Consumption


Shallow geothermal cooling can reduce the energy consumption of data centers by up to 90% (when using free cooling) compared to traditional cooling methods. The reason for this is that hydrothermal cooling uses the natural cooling power of groundwater to cool data centers. By using natural resources, data centers can significantly reduce their energy consumption, resulting in lower energy bills and reduced carbon emissions.  Shallow geothermal cooling provides for reduced energy consumption in modern green data centers in several ways:


  1. Elimination of Mechanical Cooling: Traditional data centers rely on mechanical cooling systems such as air conditioning units or refrigeration systems to maintain the ideal temperature for the equipment. These cooling systems consume a significant amount of energy, which can account for up to 40% of the total energy consumption of a data center. Shallow geothermal cooling eliminates the need for these mechanical cooling systems, reducing energy consumption and operating costs.


  1. Use of Free Cooling: Shallow geothermal cooling leverages the natural coolness of underground aquifers to cool the servers in a data center. This process uses less energy than mechanical cooling systems and can provide highly efficient cooling even in warm climates. By utilizing free cooling, data centers can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.


  1. Energy Recovery: In traditional cooling systems, the heat generated by the cooling process is often wasted. In contrast, Shallow geothermal cooling can recover the heat generated by the servers and use it for other purposes, such as heating nearby buildings or producing hot water. This process can significantly reduce the energy consumption of a data center by utilizing waste heat.


  1. Reduced Need for Backup Power: Traditional cooling systems can be highly dependent on backup power sources such as generators, which can consume a significant amount of energy. In contrast, Shallow geothermal cooling can be highly resilient and reliable, reducing the need for backup power sources and further reducing energy consumption.


Reduced Water Consumption


Shallow geothermal cooling also reduces water consumption, which is critical in regions where water scarcity is an issue. Traditional cooling methods such as air or water-based cooling require a lot of water, which is typically discharged as wastewater. Hy Shallow geothermal cooling, on the other hand, does not produce any wastewater, reducing the overall water consumption of the data center.  Shallow geothermal cooling provides for reduced water consumption in modern green data centers in several ways:


  1. Closed-loop System: Shallow geothermal cooling uses a closed-loop system in which water is circulated through pipes installed in underground aquifers to cool the servers, and then returned to the aquifer to be naturally cooled by the ground. This closed-loop system requires very little additional water beyond the initial fill, resulting in significantly lower water consumption than traditional cooling systems that rely on large amounts of water for cooling.


  1. Water Efficiency: Shallow geothermal cooling is a highly efficient cooling solution that can provide the same cooling effect as traditional cooling systems while using significantly less water. The closed-loop system of Shallow geothermal cooling enables the efficient use of water resources, reducing water consumption and conserving water.


  1. Reduced Water Treatment: Traditional cooling systems often require large amounts of treated water to maintain the quality of the water used in the cooling process. In contrast, Shallow geothermal cooling uses untreated water from underground aquifers, which can significantly reduce the amount of water treatment required and further reduce water consumption.


  1. Reduced Evaporation: Traditional cooling systems that use water for cooling can also result in significant water loss through evaporation. Shallow geothermal cooling, on the other hand, uses a closed-loop system that does not require water to be exposed to the air, which can significantly reduce evaporation and further conserve water.



Increased Resiliency


Data centers require a high degree of reliability to ensure uninterrupted operation. Traditional cooling systems, such as air conditioning, are vulnerable to power outages, which can cause temperatures to rise rapidly in the data center. Hydrothermal cooling systems, on the other hand, are less vulnerable to power outages, as the groundwater loop can continue to provide cooling even in the event of a power outage.  An example of a Shallow geothermal cooling systems that has significantly improved resiliency is the system used by the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS). The system uses groundwater to cool the data center, allowing it to maintain cooling even in the event of a power outage. This is critical for high-performance computing systems, which require uninterrupted operation to perform complex calculations. Shallow geothermal cooling provides for increased resiliency in modern green data centers in several ways:


  1. Natural Cooling: Shallow geothermal cooling leverages the natural coolness of underground aquifers to cool the servers, which can provide reliable and efficient cooling even during power outages or extreme weather events. This natural cooling method is less dependent on external factors and can be more resilient to disruptions than traditional mechanical cooling systems that rely on external power sources and infrastructure.


  1. Redundancy: Shallow geothermal cooling can be designed with redundant systems to ensure continuous cooling even in the event of a system failure. For example, backup pumps, piping, and monitoring systems can be installed to provide redundancy and ensure that the cooling system continues to function even if one component fails.


  1. Lower Maintenance: Shallow geothermal cooling systems require less maintenance than traditional cooling systems, which can improve their reliability and resiliency. Because the system uses natural cooling methods, it is less complex and has fewer moving parts than traditional cooling systems, reducing the likelihood of equipment failures and the need for maintenance.


  1. Energy Independence: Shallow geothermal cooling systems can be designed to operate independently of external power sources, which can increase their resiliency and reliability. For example, if the data center is equipped with renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power, the Shallow geothermal cooling system can continue to operate even during power outages or disruptions to the grid.


Lower Carbon Footprint


Hydrothermal cooling can lower the carbon footprint of data centers in several ways. Hydrothermal cooling uses the natural cooling properties of groundwater to cool the data center, eliminating the need for energy-intensive cooling systems like air conditioning or chiller plants. This can result in significant energy savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  Shallow geothermal cooling provides for a lower carbon footprint in modern green data centers in several ways:


  1. Energy Efficiency: Shallow geothermal cooling is a highly efficient cooling solution that can significantly reduce the energy consumption of a data center. By using natural cooling methods, Shallow geothermal cooling can provide highly efficient cooling while consuming significantly less energy than traditional mechanical cooling systems. This reduction in energy consumption can significantly lower the carbon footprint of a data center.


  1. Renewable Energy Sources: Many modern green data centers are powered by renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power. By utilizing renewable energy sources to power the Shallow geothermal cooling system, the data center can further reduce its carbon footprint and move closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality.


  1. Reduced Water Consumption: As mentioned earlier, Shallow geothermal cooling requires significantly less water than traditional cooling systems. This reduction in water consumption can also reduce the carbon footprint of a data center, as it reduces the energy required for water treatment and transport, which can be significant contributors to a data centre’s overall carbon footprint.


  1. Waste Heat Recovery: As the Shallow geothermal cooling system cools the data centre’s servers, it generates waste heat, which can be recovered and used for other purposes, such as heating nearby buildings or producing hot water. By recovering waste heat and using it for other purposes, the data center can reduce the amount of energy required to produce heat, further reducing its carbon footprint.


Reduced Costs



Hydrothermal cooling can also reduce the operating costs of data centers. By reducing energy and water consumption, data centers can save on their utility bills. Additionally, the use of natural resources reduces the need for expensive cooling infrastructure, such as cooling towers or air conditioning units.  Shallow geothermal cooling provides for reduced costs in modern green data centers in several ways:


  1. Reduced Energy Consumption: One of the primary benefits of Shallow geothermal cooling is that it significantly reduces the energy consumption of a data center. By using natural cooling methods, Shallow geothermal cooling can provide efficient cooling while consuming significantly less energy than traditional mechanical cooling systems. This reduction in energy consumption can translate into significant cost savings for a data center, including lower energy bills and reduced operating costs.


  1. Lower Maintenance Costs: Shallow geothermal cooling systems require less maintenance than traditional cooling systems, which can result in lower maintenance costs for a data center. The system uses natural cooling methods, which are less complex and have fewer moving parts than traditional cooling systems, reducing the likelihood of equipment failures and the need for maintenance.


  1. Reduced Water Consumption: As mentioned earlier, Shallow geothermal cooling requires significantly less water than traditional cooling systems. This reduction in water consumption can translate into cost savings for a data center, including lower water bills and reduced water treatment costs.


  1. Waste Heat Recovery: The Shallow geothermal cooling system generates waste heat as it cools the data centre’s servers, which can be recovered and used for other purposes, such as heating nearby buildings or producing hot water. By recovering waste heat and using it for other purposes, the data center can reduce the amount of energy required to produce heat, further reducing costs.


  1. Renewable Energy Sources: Many modern green data centers are powered by renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power. By utilizing renewable energy sources to power the Shallow geothermal cooling system, the data center can further reduce its energy costs and move closer to achieving its goal of achieving carbon neutrality.



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