– WestfalenWind IT

German wind turbine operator WestfalenWind-Group is pushing forward with its plans to put data centers inside turbines.

Designed by a subsidiary called WestfalenWind IT, the WindCores project has operated a small data center deployment within a turbine for over a year, with help from the University of Paderborn. Now, the company plans to scale up the initiative, and has turned to Fujitsu for servers and storage, and Green IT Systems for handling hosting and cloud services.

Blowing in the wind

"There is plenty of space inside many wind turbine towers for IT and infrastructure equipment, enabling the low-emissions distributed data centers of the future," Dr Gunnar Schomaker, co-founder of the WestfalenWind IT Group, said.

"With WindCores, providers like Green IT are able to offer a new differentiated portfolio of cloud services to their customers, who also benefit from low power costs and sustainability, plus a reduction in their overall carbon footprint."

Christian Hoffmeister, CIO at Green IT, added: "We are focused on delivering sustainable, energy-efficient and cost-effective IT solutions for our customers. Unfortunately, most data centers use a considerable amount of energy derived from fossil fuels or nuclear power, backed up by diesel-powered generators in case of an interruption in electricity supply. The WindCores solution offered by WestfalenWind IT is the logical way for us to deliver near carbon-neutral services."

Each wind turbine is 13-meters wide and 150-meters high, and fit four fire-resistant IT safety cabinets, housing 62U server racks. For IT, WestfalenWind IT and Green IT installed Fujitsu's Primergy servers and Eternus storage systems.

So far, 92 percent of the power required by the data center came from the wind turbine above it, with the facility connected to two independent electricity providers to ensure N+1 redundancy and continued operation during periods of low wind (or extremely high winds, when turbines are shut down).

The partners claim the small facilities will meet Tier III standards, with a reliability level of 99.98 percent.

WindCores in action:

Data centers and turbines

Wind turbines have long been used to help power data centers - albeit, not so directly. Google has signed a 12 year contract with Norway's largest wind farm, Facebook has turned to three wind farms in Norway, and Salesforce has a deal for 40MW of wind power in Canada - to name but a few.

Data centers have also helped wind farms. Vestas, the largest wind turbine supplier in the world, uses a Lenovo supercomputer to model global wind patterns to aid with choosing sites for new farms. It also collects data from existing turbines, to help run them more efficiently.