Google’s new data centers in Taiwan will keep cool during the day thanks to ice made overnight. A thermal storage system, the first of its kind for Google, will balance the company’s energy needs during off-peak night hours, when electricity is cheaper, and during the day when there is more demand on the local grid. The cooling system is another reason why Google repeatedly ranks as a leading green information technology (IT) company.
The thermal storage system will save Google money on electricity rates, which are generally expensive in Taiwan. The system will run at night, making ice during off-peak hours. It will then pump cold water around the facility during the day. The unit, which will operate next to a standard air conditioning system, will function like a battery that in turn can lower building temperatures for as many as six hours a day. Google expects the data center to use 50 percent less energy than other data centers.
Google is spending $700 million on the three new data centers in Taiwan to offer users in Asia more rapid and steady access to its services. The rate of internet users in Asia is growing at faster than in other region across the globe, so the new Taiwan facilities will ease the load currently on Google’s data centers in Singapore and Hong Kong. Taiwan’s tropical climate, however, is a challenge for cooling data centers, which can consume vast amounts of energy. But Google already has a legacy of embracing alternative energy and watching its carbon footprint, from its investment in solar residential systems to pledging that its operations are carbon neutral.
Local businesses in Changua, Taiwan will also benefit from Google’s investment in thermal storage technology. Since the ice generated at night acts like a storage battery, its cooling during the day will free up the local electricity grid when other customers need power. As fossil fuels become more expensive, it is easy to see how green IT innovations like thermal storage will soon pay for themselves.