Facebook’s data center

Data centers pack hundreds or thousands of servers into buildings that can dwarf big box stores, with computers running around the clock. Apple is building a new data center in Prineville, Oregon consisting of two buildings, each a whopping 338,000 square feet in size, or about two Costco stores each. They’ll be full of “data halls” with mighty energy requirements. Reliable power is required to power server loads and computing operations (50%), to fulfill cooling requirements (40%), and power conversion and distribution losses (10%). Facebook built its first company-owned data center in Prineville. It consumes 28 megawatts of power.

The City of Prineville is giving Apple a 15-year property tax break for a number of concessions, including Apple’s promise to be 100% renewably powered. Apple’s Maiden Center in North Carolina features a 100-acre solar field and a bio-fuel driven fuel cell.

If data centers don’t slim down their power consumption, they could draw 2,400 megawatts in the Northwest in 2030, two-thirds as much power as the Northwest aluminum industry’s old smelters used at their peak in the 1980s. Even under a most likely scenario, energy demand from Northwest data centers will grow rapidly, at an 100% annual rate, quadrupling data centers’ energy load by 2030.

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