The world’s first 100% renewable-powered data center has another claim to fame now – it has actually performed more efficiently than initial expectations, thanks to the capacity and cost savings resulting from the innovative free cooling system based on technology from Eaton-Williams, an affiliate of CES Group, LLC. The system and its controls help ensure that temperature levels in the data center are maintained at 18 to 27 degrees C with humidity between 30 and 70 percent relative humidity by the primary system of direct free cooling. Secondary cooling is via indirect free air with a glycol heat exchanger. Since the opening of the data center, Verne Global has used 100 percent free cooling in either direct or indirect mode. This cooling system efficiency contributes to the data center’s overall PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) that has been tested to 1.21.
The Verne Global data center, located in Keflavik, Iceland, has a free cooling system that takes advantage of the moderate Icelandic climate and taps into the island's vast geothermal and hydroelectric resources to help enable the world's first zero-carbon data center facility. Working in partnership with Colt Data Center Services the Eaton-Williams team customized a modular data center hall design with free cooling. This free cooling system brings in cool outdoor air and circulates only that natural air in the server rooms of the data center, eliminating the need for mechanical cooling and the energy costs associated with it.
"After two years of operation, the actual efficiency of our data center in Keflavik, Iceland, has exceeded expectations," said Tate Cantrell, Chief Technology Officer for Verne Global. "Our initial expectations were high with efficiency estimated to be 80 percent savings in electrical energy costs of the cooling system, which uses 100 percent outdoor air to cool the servers. Not only did the data center meet those efficiency goals, it surpassed them."
The solution developed for Verne Global incorporated complex algorithms to provide the correct levels of cooling without using mechanical cooling. The task involved taking full advantage of the ambient air conditions and designing the required parameters. The end result was an N+1 cooling system customized with primary cooling being supplied by direct free cooling from the outside air. Each unit has multiple variable speed electronically commutated fans to precisely match airflow to the cooling demand in order to further reduce energy use and provide N+1 resilience.
A unexpected bonus benefit of the cooling system's efficiency was discovered by the data center operations team after the system was operating for some time. "We learned that our customers are becoming more efficient at the IT level. Due to the efficiency of the fan sizing and the pressures we can get an extra degree of cooling and for that one extra degree of cooling, our customers' servers are operating more efficiently," Cantrell explained.
"With customers such as Verne Global committed to seeking out and using renewable energy, the CES Group Data Center Products team is helping lead the way in developing innovative solutions that enable data centers to deploy cooling strategies and make a significant environmental contribution," said Kris Holla, Chief Sales Officer and Vice President, Data Center Products for Nortek, Inc.