Do data centers that run on clean power seem like pipe dreams? Not when companies hit the massive scales of webscale computing. Execs creating business models from green data centers say that it’s the large size of the projects that makes clean power attractive.

Apple's massive solar farm in North Carolina, photo by WCNC-TV
photo: WCNC-TV

Two execs building businesses around renewable energy-powered data centers said at GigaOM’s Structure Europe event in Amsterdam on Tuesday that the key to driving clean power for data centers is scale. Both Tate Cantrell, CTO of Verne Global, and Eirikur Hrafnsson, founder of GreenQloud, run companies that sell green data center services to IT companies across large computing facilities, which are able to aggregate clean power cost effectively over a large scale.

Apple was only able to build such a large solar plant to power its data center in North Carolina because it’s doing computing at such a massive scale there, said Cantrell. It just wouldn’t be cost effective for a smaller data center operator to build its own clean power project, he added.

Hrafnsson thinks that the growth in webscale computing will be so large that it will fundamentally require the use of more renewables. He also thinks that in the future Internet companies will increasingly factor in the location of low-cost and reliable clean power into the decision about where to build their data centers. Watch the entire fireside chat of their talk at our Structure: Europe event in Amsterdam.

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  1. cloud computing and go paperless is all not that green. Unless someone like this addresses that

  2. The ability to maximise efficiency within cooling, power usage, DC design etc comes with scale so the move from running software and hardware in house transfers the burden from the individual company, who doesn’t really have any incentive nor the expertise to “go green” to the data centre/cloud vendor. They can then use their focus purely on providing cloud infrastructure and the economies of scale that come with that.

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