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Summary:

We’ve been following solar, wind and even the idea of offshore wind-powered data centers … but trash-powered data centers? That’s the aim of a Colorado Springs, Colo. developer who wants to build a data center campus with servers powered by waste and wood.

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We’ve been following solar, wind and even the idea of offshore wind-powered data centers … but trash-powered data centers? That’s the aim of Colorado Springs, Colo. developers who want to build a data center campus with servers powered by waste and wood (hat tip Data Center Knowledge).

The project, proposed by a group called Vineyard LLC, hopes to build 5 to 10 data centers and a 50 MW power plant that would burn trash for power, on a 105-acre bit of property that houses a vineyard and a golf course. Estimates of the total costs of building the data centers, the power plant and the business center are $1 billion according to local media.

When you think about it, trash-power might even be a better idea than solar or wind-powered data centers, given the intermittent nature of solar and wind (the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow 24-7). Trash, on the other hand, could be burned to provide more constant power. Plus, the proposed Vineyards site is close to a Waste Management trash transfer station (read about Waste Management’s investment strategy here.)

While there’s been a few rare examples of these plans for cleaner powered data centers, most Internet companies and innovators are looking to create more energy efficient data centers. According to the DOE, data centers are responsible for 3 percent of U.S. energy consumption, and growing, and a typical 125,000 foot data center consumes $3 million worth of energy per year. With more data centers being built to support our always-on culture, companies will continue to look to ways to cut that energy bill.

Google  and Yahoo have both been investing significant resources in data centers with smaller energy footprints. Yahoo recently unveiled its chicken coop-inspired data center design, which utilizes outside air for cooling. It’s finally become a necessary competitive business practice to make greener data centers.

For more research on Google, clean power and transmission infrastructure check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Image courtesy of star5112.

  1. Will this power plant directly feed the data centers, or will it be like most projects where the electrons get fed into the grid and the data center merely pays an offset premium (usually) for the right to claim they use 100 per cent green power? Colocating production with consumer doesn’t always make the best sense. Reduced transmission loses, I suppose, but reduced flexibility and reliability as well.

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