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Start Campus Sustainability Head Leads Discussion of Sustainable Energy Solutions

Start Campus’s Head of Sustainability and Marketing Fabiola Bordino was featured on an episode of the DCD>Inside Portugal podcast on May 16, 2023. On the recent episode, she addressed Sustainability in Data Centers: how Portugal can shape the future.

Start Campus, an organization developing cutting-edge sustainable data center services, is located in Portugal, and is leading the market in developing 100% green energy ecosystems with their SINES Project.

“I think the challenges are not just for data centers in Portugal,” Fabiola says. “They are for data centers all over the world. The most pressing of these [challenges], in my opinion, is energy.”

Because the need for data centers is growing at a rapid speed, the need for energy consumption is massive. In 2018, a study was carried out at the European Commission that predicted 2.7% of energy in Europe came from data centers. Predictions show that by 2030, this will increase to 28%.

“The biggest challenge is to move from typically fossil energy to renewable energy and how Europe, and now more specifically Portugal, can offer a mix of renewable sources,” says Fabiola. “We are in a great location in that we have about 75% of renewable energy. Start Campus is able to use strong and complementary renewable energy through solar and wind energy — when we don’t have one, the other will be present. This is one of the best ways we have to support sustainable energy and be able to have sustainable data centers, by using the natural location to optimize energy sourcing.” 

One of the highest energy consumption factors faced by hyperscale data centers is cooling, which Start Campus addresses through an innovative zero-consumption ocean water cooling system. Start Campus is strategically located on the coast of Sines, Portugal, which allows for waterless operations. The green giant utilizes the ocean as a heat sink, ejecting the heat created by IT equipment directly into seawater using heat exchangers. Two sources of seawater are used — a direct intake from the ocean and repurposed pre-cooled seawater. A nearby liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminal also uses seawater for the opposite effect of heating and re-gasifying natural gas. Instead of returning to the ocean as a by-product of the process, this pre-cooled seawater is used again by Start Campus, increasing the total efficiency. The result is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 and negligible Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) resulting in a WUE of 0.

SINES Project is built to empower long-term digital transformation for hyperscalers. With the various technological advancements that the company is implementing across its data center campus, Fabiola mentions that customers that choose to use immersive cooling solutions have the possibility to quadruple the effective use of whitespace in the already highly-sustainable facilities. She continues by stating, “As technology evolves, we will be able to use more power in these racks because we have made the cooling system even more efficient. This will allow us to reduce not only the data center space, but also the energy they consume. This is huge for the future because we will be able to reuse data centers that are designed and built to be critical and have a power, let’s say, of 10MW. We will be able to increase that to 40MW using the same space by adapting the equipment.”

This ocean water-cooling approach allows Start Campus to offer prospective customers a green way to support operations with industry leading power usage efficiency on its data center campus in Sines. By basing operations on this model, industries can create a sustainable and energy-efficient way to approach cooling.

Start Campus’s SINES Project has created a model on which the data center construction industry can create highly efficient green giants with optimal services, and support a sustainable future in the telecommunications world. 

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