Wind farm, server farm

Paul Raven @ 22-07-2009

wind turbinesServer farms use a whole lot of power, and with the price of energy likely to start skyrocketing again before too long, canny businesses will be looking for a way to keep a cap on the costs of running their hardware. Enter Texas firm Baryonyx, which intends initially to build server farms powered primarily by renewable energy sources like wind power… but that’s just the start.

Baryonyx plans to build a 28,000 square foot data center in Stratford, which will be powered by 100 wind turbines built on the adjacent land that will generate up to 150 megawatts of power. Each of the turbines will be able to generate up to 3.3 megawatts of power. Capacity not needed by the data center will be sold to local utilities. Baryonyx said it will take about 3 years to reach the operational phase for the wind-powered data center.

The second phase is the offshore wind farms, which will feature up to 450 wind turbines, which are each 300 feet tall and capable of generating 6 megawatts of power. Baryonyx was the high bidder in a July 14 lease sale by the Texas General Land Office. Baryonyx will pay a “nominal fee” to lease the two offshore areas for wind development.

Now there’s a sound business model; sell a more affordable solution to the desperate-for-efficiency first, and then sit back as rising oil prices ensure that your target market just keeps growing… [via SlashDot; image by jesse.millan]


Fusion power: now even more futuristic!

Paul Raven @ 29-05-2009

Fusion power is just around the corner, it’s often said… but my father told me they told him the same thing when he was an apprentice back in the early sixties. It seems to be fusion’s destiny to have its reality date rolled back perpetually – the latest example being the announcement that the France-based ITER international experimental fusion project is being scaled down, with the prospective date for its first actual power-generating experiments delayed by a whole five years from the original schedule:

Faced with ballooning costs and growing delays, ITER’s seven partners are likely to build only a skeletal version of the device at first. The project’s governing council said last June that the machine should turn on in 2018; the stripped-down version could allow that to happen. But the first experiments capable of validating fusion for power would not come until the end of 2025, five years later than the date set when the ITER agreement was signed in 2006.

[…]

Indeed, the plan is perhaps the only way forward. Construction costs are likely to double from the €5-billion (US$7-billion) estimate provided by the project in 2006, as a result of rises in the price of raw materials, gaps in the original design, and an unanticipated increase in staffing to manage procurement. The cost of ITER’s operations phase, another €5 billion over 20 years, may also rise.

Bit of a bummer – but then maybe we’d be better off investing in energy technologies that we already have working versions of. €10 billion could probably make a huge difference to the current state of play in solar, geothermal and other sustainable energy sources , I’d have thought. [via SlashDot]

But don’t despair, fusion fans – the wonderfully-named National Ignition Facility in California is working on a laser-fusion method that comes with all the too-cheap-to-meter promise of those thast have come before. I’d love to see fusion arrive in my lifetime, and perhaps I will – but in the meantime I think I’ll stick to pragmatism. The Chinese seem to be on a similar wavelength, as they’re suddenly ploughing a whole lot of cash into developing renewable energy sources like solar power. Place your bets, ladies and gents, place your bets…


Down the co-op: wind farms in the UK

Tom James @ 18-12-2008

Good news on the alternative energy front: researcher Baidya Roy has found solutions to some problems with wind energy. There’s also an article here on wind-farm co-operatives in the UK:

The cooperative, which began production in March, is the first wind farm to be wholly owned by individuals in Britain, which with gales sweeping in from the Atlantic has the best wind resources in Europe.

“We have produced energy every day since then,” Adam Twine, a farmer who started the project 15 years ago on his plot of land by installing five wind turbines 49 metres (160 feet) in height.

Overall, the project cost eight million pounds (8.9 million euros, 11.9 million dollars), nearly 60 percent of which came from individual shareholders, with the remainder being funded by a bank loan that is to be repaid over the next eight to 10 years.

CO2 emissions resulting from the production, installation and the lifetime of the turbine, which stretches 25 years, will be offset in just six months.

This is quite a heartening story: it combines the best elements of top-down (government subsidy) and bottom-up (locally-owned co-operative organisation) energy solutions.

[from Physorg][image from pierreyves0 on flickr]


Print and paint your way to cleaner electricty

Paul Raven @ 24-07-2007

The adoption of renewable energies should really take off when we’re able to print solar panels out at home, or simply paint them onto any solid surface. [Colony Worlds]


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