New Data Center in Besançon, France, Plays it Cool with EcoBreeze

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

I caught up with Dushy Goonawardhane about the Neoclyde data center in Besançon, France. Dushy is business development manager for Schneider Electric’s cooling solutions in EMEA, and he’s had a special focus on the EcoBreeze air economizer solution launched at DataCenterDynamics London in late 2010, overseeing this new installation.

Unless you’re French, Besançon is probably one of those places you’ve never heard of. But about a week after I was told about the data center, the city provided a scenic backdrop as Bradley Wiggins won his first Tour de France stage (eventually going on to make history as the first Brit to win the toughest race in the world). So if you’re into cycling, or data centers (as I am both), it’s a significant place.

In fact, Besançon is the capital and principal city of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It’s been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2008 and has a metropolitan population getting on for a quarter of a million inhabitants.

The Neoclyde Data Center is a joint venture between Neo-Telecoms and Euclyde Data Centers and has been built primarily to serve the requirements of local business and commerce. It’s a Tier 3+ facility that will provide a number of services such as Hosting, Storage Services, Cloud services and others. An important objective for the data center was to make it as green as possible, especially since Besançon was once heralded as France’s first green city.

The new data center has been built with a day one 100kW load, but using modular and scalable physical infrastructure, it can accommodate up to 300kW as demand for data center space as well as power and cooling increases. The use of EcoBreeze is key to Neoclyde’s low PUE of 1.1:

“Neoclyde wanted the right levels of resilience, but they also wanted a high efficiency system,” Dushy told me. “They wanted an economizer-based cooling solution right from the start. EcoBreeze uses outside air to cool the exhaust air from the server load, so it reduces the requirement for mechanical cooling and therefore saves energy and cost. Actually it’s an indirect process, so the outside air doesn’t actually get into the data center and there’s no risk of contamination.”

I’ve written about economizer solutions several times on this blog, especially from a costs savings point of view, see “Cost Benefit Considerations for Data Center Economizer Mode Cooling”. At the Neoclyde data center in Besancon they benefit from 340 days of free cooling, making a significant inroad into the biggest cost of data center operations (i.e., cooling energy cost). If you want to get more information about the technology, two good resources are Schneider Electric’s white paper 132 “Economizer Modes of Data Center Cooling Systems” and white paper 136 “High Efficiency Economizer-based Cooling Modules for Large Data Centers”.

Economizer-based solutions can be used pretty much anywhere, even in hot conditions (in the attached movie, Dushy cites South Africa and Spain), provided humidity isn’t overly high for too long a period. The Green Grid has recently updated their White Paper “Air-Side Free Cooling Maps: The Impact of ASHRAE 2011 Allowable Ranges”, which is a useful resource and can be downloaded free. Also the US Environmental Protection Agency provides a description of the technology on the Energy Star website.

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