Although many tech giants, including Google and Apple, are now turning to renewable energy sources to power their new facilities, generally most wind and solar power does not go to where it is needed most, and this is especially the case in Europe.
Now, an initiative called GreenDataNet, looks into alternative ways to power data centers in an attempt to reduce energy consumption and pollution at the same time. More specifically, the guys behind it are exploring the potential of using partially degraded electric car batteries as a back up energy supply.
The project, funded by the EU and industrial partners, is addressing two of the most pressing issues that Europe has to handle in the coming years, battery recycling and energy supply. On one hand, with the rapid increase of popularity and usage of electric vehicles, specialists predict that in less than 15 years, Europe will have a huge pile of used lithium ion batteries that would be difficult to recycle or reuse, given the existing infrastructure. On the other hand, the ever-so-growing demand for energy to supply expanding data centers is already putting quite a bit of pressure onto the grid, and it is highly unlikely that this demand will drop in future.
The GreenDataNet will focus on exploring software and hardware solutions to both problems. To start with, the aim of the initiative is to develop and promote software technologies and smart energy management systems that can regulate power grids and allocation of renewable energy supply in order to meet increasing demands coming from data centers. Then, the aim will be directed towards reusing affordable and reliable partly degraded car batteries in back up power supply systems during rush hour, when the grid is likely to be overloaded.
If all works according to plan, the environmental impact caused by both energy production and dumping of old batteries will be greatly reduced, and what initially seemed to be a huge problem, could very well turn into a brilliant solution.
Image (c) BBC