Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory spend their lives developing smart renewable energy solutions, so when the time came to build their own data center they knew it had to be as green as possible. It appears that they’ve succeeded – their new HPC Data Center in Golden, Colorado is the most energy-efficient data center in the world!

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One of the center’s most innovative features is its warm-water cooling system. Most systems use cold air conditioning units housed outside to keep computers cool, which is incredibly inefficient. “It’s like putting your beverage on your kitchen table and then going outside to turn up the air conditioner to get your drink cold,” says NREL’s Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond. So instead, the center will cool the computers using water. Once the water has passed through the system, it traps and carries the heat away from the computers, where it will be re-used to heat the building and sidewalks outside.

In order to tackle efficiency from the ground up, NREL worked with several partners, including HP, Intel, the Integral Group and SmithGroupJJR. In order to save power, high-voltage electricity is supplied directly to the computers – a different approach from the typical low-voltage power system, which saves electricity lost during power conversion.

Building the data center cost less than a conventional building, and it is expected to cost less to operate. According to Hammond, “Compared to a typical data center, we may save $800,000 of operating expenses per year. Because we are capturing and using waste heat, we may save another $200,000 that would otherwise be used to heat the building. So, we are looking at saving almost $1 million per year in operation costs for a data center that cost less to build than a typical data center.”

The system is expected to reach capacity by this summer, and the NREL has reached out to local power utility Xcel Energy to allow the center to use the energy it requires without being a drag on the system when energy requirements in local communities are high. For instance, during hot summer days when air conditioning is in demand to cool homes and businesses, the center can schedule certain tasks in the morning or evening.

The NREL Data Center hopes to be an example for other centers. “eBay, Facebook, and others have data centers that are water capable, but there aren’t any products on the market now that are providing liquid cooling. NREL is getting the first product that is direct-component liquid cooled. We’re going to show it’s possible, efficient, safe, and reliable,” says Hammond.


via Clean Technica