September 23, 2010, 5:41 PM — Google representatives told the magazine Computer Sweden that its Hamina, Finland, data center (now under construction) will be cooled with water from the bottom of the Baltic Sea. This will probably be the first data center in the world cooled by sea water.
The site will be powered in part from wind energy from the local power company, but some of the windmill land was donated by Google to that company.
The site is an old paper mill, which Google bought early last year. (I'm sure the book, magazine and newspaper industry will appreciate the symbolism here.) The water will be brought to the surface using refurbished paper mill pumps.
Sea water cooling is very expensive initially, but brings down cooling costs to a fraction of the cost of chillers. Rather than cooling with water that has been processed by local utilities for drinking, the Google plant will process the water just enough to function as a cooling liquid, but not enough for drinking.
The data center should go online next year.
Google will be among the first to grapple with the many challenges posed by Moore's Law, and the world's ever increasing appetite for data centers. As processing power and server capacity and use go up, so do the requirements for energy and for water. It's not clear how well the Finland plant can serve for a model for future data centers. But it's clear to me that the whole project is pretty damned cool -- both literally and figuratively -- and worth watching from a cost effectiveness point of view.