The planning that goes into designing a large corporate data center has always amazed me.  Countless man hours are invested into ensuring every last detail has been accounted for.  Physical security, air conditioning and ventilation, redundant network connectivity, and of course redundant power sources are all some of the major concerns.

These large data centers will seemingly do everything in the books, and more, to cut the massive cost of cooling thousands of physical servers, but even then, the cost of simply cooling a data center, not to mention the cost of running the servers, can still be high.

Most network administrators may never consider how much electricity their server consumes.  Most don’t realize that even things such as installing a spam filter, or using a hosted spam filter, can reduce the amount of electricity consumed by a server. Check out The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam to see just how much power is being used.

Examining one of the larger aspects of datacenter design, energy costs, HP Laboratories has come up with a proposed solution that provides an almost unlimited supply of renewable energy. Cow Poop.

HP Laboratories recommends building your next data-center on the edge of a dairy farm.  With the help of a “Manure Management System” you can turn the waste of 10,000 dairy cows into about 1 Megawatt of electricity.  For those of you, like me, who do not indulge into how much energy their servers use on any given day, that number works out to be about enough energy to power 1,000 physical servers.

The technical details of HP’s report about grain-fed data centers can be found here: Design of Farm Waste-Driven Supply Side Infrastructure for Data Centers.

This isn’t the first time science has studied the waste product of cows.  They are one of the world’s leading producers of methane gas (Do cows pollute as much as cars?) This may be, however, the first time a joint-venture between a large corporate data center and a dairy farm could become quite profitable.

So what do you think? Given the opportunity would you build a data center using cow manure for electricity, or is this just too much?

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