Google heads up $2.4bn of green initiatives in Europe
Google has a $2.8bn investment drive into carbon-free energy generation projects and green infrastructure in Europe. The programmes will help develop new technologies to make round-the-clock carbon-free energy cheaper and more widely available.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Google’s 1,700 megawatts of new renewable energy projects in Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, and relate to the energy efficiency of Google sites as well as the support of multiple education programmes.
The beneficiaries will include STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), environmental and cultural projects, two projects with the Museum Fredericia that will promote local history through virtual experiences and the preservation of local bee and butterfly populations in The Netherlands.
Speaking about the directives, , President, Google Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the aim was to support local economies as well as sustainable projects. “We are proud to invest in Europe’s digital infrastructure, contribute to the local communities we operate in and support Europe’s green transition. This will be a decisive decade, and we are committed to leading by example,” he explained.
Brittin continued, “A few months ago, we announced our Third Decade of Climate Action: an ambitious plan to help build a carbon-free future and operate on clean energy around the clock. This is far more challenging than the traditional approach of matching energy usage with renewable energy, but we’re working to get this done in the next nine years.”
Green data centres
Google already has 19 data centres globally and has spent upwards of $4bn on its five European data centre hubs since 2007 after recently breaking ground on a sixth site in Hamina, Finland.
The internet technology leader also opened a second data centre in Holland this month and all sites managed by the company are powered with sustainability in mind. The new green initiatives include goals in line with Europe’s ambitious target of achieving a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030. This is in addition to its 32% renewable energy target.
The multinational recently revealed that it operates “the cleanest cloud in the industry” and says its data centres are on average twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise facility. They revealed they were delivering seven times as much computing power as five years ago but using the same energy levels of electrical power.
Google says such breakthroughs have only been made possible through the implementation of AI technology, which helps reduce the energy they use to cool their data centres by an average 30%. The innovations have also been made available for use by airports, shopping malls, hospitals, data centres and other commercial buildings and industrial facilities.
Brittin went on to say that Google’s extensive investments in Europe have resulted in numerous employment and training opportunities for local populations, therefore helping communities to prosper and embrace notions of sustainability.
He explained, “In addition to enabling the greenest, cleanest cloud, all these sites bring economic growth and employment to local communities and to Europe. In Finland, our data centre has brought €1.2bn in investment and supported 1700 jobs every year since 2009. During the construction of our Denmark data centre, we spent over €600mn and supported 2600 jobs. And in the Netherlands, we've directly invested €2.5bn since 2014."
Brittin added, “We are proud to invest in Europe’s digital infrastructure, contribute to the local communities we operate in and support Europe’s green transition. This will be a decisive decade, and we are committed to leading by example.”
Liquid cooling market poised for growth
The data centre liquid cooling market is set for strong growth over the coming decade, as a series of high-profile trials by prominent hyperscalers and growing demand for greener, more efficient cooling drives adoption throughout the industry. A new report by Research and Markets puts the size of the liquid cooling industry in 2021 at just over $3.19bn globally. By 2026, that market is expected to exceed $7.2bn, exhibiting a CAGR of 14.64%.
Liquid cooling can trace its roots all the way back to the mid-1960’s, when IBM launched its first cooling system that used water instead of air. Chilled water was used to cool interboard heat exchangers to reduce the temperature rise across multiple stacks of boards populated with cards. The technology was, like many new innovations, somewhat expensive and unreliable; putting water and expensive electronics in close proximity to one another has always been seen as a somewhat risky business.
Things have come a long way since then, however, and it seems as though liquid cooling might finally be reaching maturity at a critical juncture in the data centre industry’s history, as skyrocketing demand for digital infrastructure collides with the non-negotiable need for more sustainable designs.
Research and Markets’ report lists three key factors as the key drivers behind this growth rate, which is expected to be more than 4% faster than the expansion of the overall data centre cooling industry during the 2021-2026 period.
Strategic collaboration with leading technical giants
Earlier this year, hyperscale cloud giant Microsoft announced that it had been playing around behind the scenes with a new type of liquid cooling solution from Bitfury spinout firm LiquidStack. We actually sat down with LiquidStack’s CEO, Joe Capes recently, and you can read the full interview in this month’s issue of Data Centre Magazine.
Microsoft’s interest in liquid cooling solutions apparently stems from its need to ensure its hyperscale facilities (which the company builds denser and runs hotter every year) continue to make progress in terms of efficiency.
“Air cooling is not enough,” said Christian Belady, distinguished engineer and vice president of Microsoft’s datacenter advanced development group in Redmond, Washington. “That’s what’s driving us to immersion cooling, where we can directly boil off the surfaces of the chip.”
Because heat transfer in liquids is orders of magnitude more efficient than air, Microsoft (and likely other hyperscalers looking to reap similar rewards) is expected to be a key driver of hyperscale adoption throughout the industry.
Bolstered production of liquid cooling systems
In response to growing interest and demand, liquid cooling companies are racing to globalise and scale up their offerings. A recent report from Markets and Markets identified more than 10 firms from across the world currently either diversifying into or directly targeting the liquid cooling sector of the data centre cooling industry: Asetek (Denmark), Rittal (Germany), Vertiv (US), Green Revolution Cooling (US), Midas Green Technologies (US), Allied Control (Hong Kong), Schneider Electric (France), Chilldyne (US), CoolIT Systems (Canada), Submer (Spain), Iceotope (UK), Fujitsu (Japan), Aspen Systems (US), DCX The Liquid Cooling Company (Poland), Ebullient (US), Aquila Group (US), ExaScaler (Japan), Cooler Master Co (China), Asperitas (Netherland), and Liqit.io (Ukraine).
Need to address the limitations associated with air-based cooling
Air cooling (such as hot-aisle-cold-aisle setups) remains the most widely-utilised solution for cooling data centres. However, as rack densities rise, and the climate crisis continues to make air-based free cooling less of a viable option in more and more places, liquid cooling could be the solution.
The growth of data centres at the edge is also a potential driver of liquid cooling adoption. Because edge data centres are built on much smaller footprints (commonly enough inside a shipping container), huge walls of fans are rarely efficient enough in terms of square-footage to support edge data centre needs, particularly with the growth of high performance computing (HPC) applications at the network edge.