How One Data Center is Using New
Thermal Energy Storage Technology:
Google Embraces Thermal Storage in Taiwan for Cooling Data Center
As part of Google’s ongoing efforts to cut costs and save power in its custom-built data centers, it will cool the servers in its new Taiwanese computing facility using a technique known as thermal energy storage. The project is part of the company’s ongoing data center infrastructure expansion in Asia, which so far also includes a data center in Singapore, as well as one in Hong Kong.
The company is investing more than US$900m into its Asian expansion. On its website, it said it needed to prepare for the rate of growth in internet use in the region.
“More new Internet users are coming online everyday here in Asia than anywhere else in the world,” As stated on the Google web page for the project. “They are looking for information and entertainment, new business opportunities, and better ways to connect with friends and family near and far. We’re building a data center to make sure that our users in Taiwan and across Asia can do just that.”
“What makes Asia unique is the fact that it’s a region of mobile-first,” Daniel Alegre, Google’s president for Asia- Pacific, said in a phone interview with Data Center Knowledge. “YouTube, for instance, is becoming a very large component of mobile usage.”
The company bought 15 hectares of land for the data center in Changhua County, Taiwan, in September 2011. Its long-term investment in the facility is estimated to exceed $300m. Each of the other two projects in Asia is expected to cost about the same.
Google expects to bring all three Asian data centers online in 2013.
Using the thermal energy storage technique the company can run its air conditioning systems at night when electricity rates are lower, cooling insulated tanks filed with ice or liquid coolant that can then be used to dissipate heat in data centers when ambient temperatures rise during the day. Although not the first data center to employ the idea of thermal energy storage, i/o Data Centers, for example, already uses it along with solar arrays in its Phoenix ONE data center, it will be the first of Google’s facilities to use the new technology.
Interestingly, Google’s approach to cooling is quite opposite to that of Ebay’s. As you might recall, Ebay is currently running it’s Project Mercury data center at record high temperatures of above 80°F. It seems that the industry is still extremely divided on what the most efficient facility running temperatures should be, but only time will tell which are trends and which become standards.
“We’re very excited to be building this data center in Taiwan,” said Lee-Feng Chien, Managing Director, Google Taiwan. “We’re working as fast as we can to start bringing it online by the second half of 2013, so we can keep up with the rapid growth in capacity demand across the region, and to hire the team of around 25 full time Googlers that will manage the facility when it’s fully operational.
“I’m also happy to be able to confirm that this will be one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly data centers in Asia,” Chien continued. “Part of this will come from our nighttime cooling and thermal energy storage system – not a revolutionary idea, but the first of its kind in our global data center fleet. But we’re also custom designing each element of the facility – adapting for the local environment some of the design features our engineers have developed and continue to innovate on in our data centers around the world that have enabled us to use 50% less energy than typical facilities.”
Typical to the data center industry, this may be a trend that lags to catch on, but if and when it does, it has potential to change cooling efficiency in data centers.
What do you think about thermal energy storage technology? Do you think it’s here to stay or just another industry phase?