Photo credit: Skinnyde
Tech giants like Google, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft have been considering everything from wave to solar power to keep their massive data centers running, but did you know that there’s another option that can be found right in your own backyard? Well, that is if you’re a dairy farmer… HP recently released a research paper that outlines how companies like themselves, Google and Microsoft could partner with American dairy farmers and use cattle dung as fuel, and it sounds like a very
poopular popular idea.
Many dairy farmers want to build biogas plants where they can turn manure into useful methane but are impeded by the high initial cost of equipment. HP’s paper discusses a system where farmers could rent out both land and power to tech companies with a return on investment in waste-to-fuel systems in two years, which is a win/win for both the farmers and the tech companies since tech companies have the money that farmers need to finance their equipment and are willing to spend it in order to get clean power.
How much power can be produced by one cow‘s waste? An average cow “makes” enough manure to power a 100-watt light bulb, meaning 10,000 cows could potentially power a 1-MW (small) data center. But Ecogeek points out that another smart way that farms and tech giants can work together: “biogas systems require a lot of heat to make fuel, and computing equipment in data centers produce a lot of waste heat, so a loop could be created where the biogas plant powers the data center and the waste heat from the data center helps power the biogas plant.”