Tuesday, January 08, 2013

How Nuclear Energy Helps Canada Snag Data Center Business

Courtesy of the Globe and Mail
Over the holidays, the Globe and Mail, Canada's major national newspaper, took note of a positive business trend for our neighbors to the North -- namely, how more and more companies were locating computer data centers in the country. The trend is becoming so pronounced, that some are openly speculating that the greater Toronto metropolitan area could become a global hub for data center operations.

Among the reasons why: Canada's cool climate means that data centers operating there don't have to spend nearly as much money on energy in order to keep cool. And it doesn't hurt that the nation has access to plenty of affordable and reliable electricity:
Information technology services company Fujitsu Canada is planning to open a facility to take advantage of what Canada has to offer. Free cooling, however, is only part of the picture. Access to cheap, clean, reliable energy is also a magnet for investors looking to build these power-hungry facilities, some of which consume roughly as much energy as a small city.

“The advantage Canada has is it’s far cheaper and easier to bring data to power sources, and vice versa,” says Mike O’Neil, president of IT research firm IT Market Dynamics. “It’s much cheaper to stick your data centre next to a hydro dam.”
Or in the case of Ontario, Canada's most heavily populated province, a nuclear power plant. After all, nuclear energy, along with hydropower, are the two leading sources of emission-free electricity all over the world. According to our friends at Ontario Power Generation, more than 50% of the province's electricity is generated by nuclear energy. Together, the nuclear energy facilities at Pickering and Darlington generate an impressive 6,600 megawatts.

As our Mark Flanagan noted a few months ago, Greenpeace has tried to raise hackles about companies relocating data centers to areas with copious amounts of nuclear energy, but the whole effort hasn't seemed to amount to much thus far. It's too bad the Globe and Mail failed to mention how nuclear energy is helping foster the trend they've identified.

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