Arctic-Circle Facebook data center to save environment, doom Santa

Ambient cooling saves energy, hydroelectric is cleaner than coal, reindeer is healtier than beef


Social networking site Facebook, which has become more famous for invasions of privacy than interpersonal connections, is planning a new north of the Arctic Circle so it can blow hot air toward the environmentally sensitive Santa's Workshop rather than in warmer places where it would have to rely on coal for heat, power-sucking air conditioners for cooling and a workforce more expensive than elves.

Facebook and Greenpeace announced today the two would end a two-year conflict over the use of clean power in data centers by cooperating on design of a new Facebook data center built to rely as much as possible on renewable energy.

The data center – the third Facebook has built for itself rather than rented from hosting companies –will be based in the Northern Swedish town of Lulea on the tip of the Baltic Sea, just 62 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

Putting the data center so far North will make it much easier to use usually frigid outside air to cool the computing equipment rather than running power-using, heat-generating air conditioners to do the same thing.

The air temperature in Lulea averages 36 degrees Fahrenheit and hasn't risen above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 24 hours at a time since 1961.

Though no environmental studies have been done to verify their concerns, Santa activists worry that excess data-center heat vented into the outside air will drift north, endangering the architecture and stability of the North Pole ice on which Santa's Workshop is built.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters/Denis Sinyakov

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