Wind-powered datacentre planned

Developer taking 'green datacentre' concept another step

A developer who plans to build a datacentre in Fall River, Massachusetts, near Boston, will install two large wind turbines — as tall as two high-rise buildings — to help generate its electricity.

Roland Patenaude, a local developer, recently won local zoning-board approval to install two wind turbines on an industrial-zoned 1.8 hectare block.

If the effort to build the 120,000-square-foot datacentre goes ahead as planned, its wind turbines will likely be one of the largest wind-utilising installations in a US urban area, if not the largest.

Tom Gray, a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association, says large turbines in urban areas are relatively rare. Gray says he knows of no datacentre, in particular, that had one built next to it and that the use of large turbines in urban areas is "pretty visionary". Gray says that wind turbines make a kind of "swishing aerodynamic sound, and if they are too close to residences, there can be issues with that," but for people "who live 1,000 feet away, they are no louder then a kitchen refrigerator".

Patenaude says he is proud of the fact that the wind turbines will be visible for miles around.

"Everybody is going to know Fall River is making a statement and is doing something about the energy crisis," he says.

The company formed to build the datacentre, Granite Block Global Data Centre, will make raised-floor datacentre space available to commercial customers.

Patenaude estimates that the datacentre, once it is built out, will have a power bill in excess of US$1 million (NZ$1.2 million) a month. He predicts that the two wind turbines could reduce that amount by 20% or more. He hopes to have the datacentre in operation within two years.

Patenaude says if he had more land, he would install as many as eight turbines.

Once incentive for using wind, says Patenaude, is that state grant programs will pay 40% of the cost of the wind turbines. Once completed, his facility will employ 50 to 60 people, ranging from custodial staffers to engineers.

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