Install a data center at the foot of the windmills


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The WindCores principle makes it possible to supply IT equipment with wind electricity at prices that are significantly lower than the market average. (Photo: Rittal/WestfalenWind IT)


A wind farm manager and a German industrialist had the original idea of ​​directly installing a data center at the base of a wind turbine. A practical answer to the energy needs of AI applications?

AdvertisingWhy transport low-carbon electricity from wind farms located at one point in the country to a data center located at another point, when it is enough to install said computer center as close as possible to the production site? This is the principle that the wind farm operator WestfalenWind and the German electronics and IT equipment company Rittal have just implemented with WindCores: climate-neutral data centers located directly at the foot of the wind turbines.

The WestfalenWind group operates several wind farms around Paderborn (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany). WindCore’s data centers use green electricity directly at the production site – often from excess capacity that would otherwise remain unused. WestfalenWind sees this as an opportunity to utilize data centers for artificial intelligence applications at a lower cost.

Green and cheap electricity

The principle makes it possible to supply IT equipment with wind electricity at rates significantly lower than the market average, thanks to direct supply. In addition, the method of electricity consumption means that you do not have to pay network charges, although for safety reasons WindCore’s data centers are connected to two other independent electrical networks that guarantee power supply to the data center even in the absence of wind. .


For Fiete Dubberke, managing director of WestfalenWind IT, the WindCores concept generally saves resources. (Photo: Rittal/WestfalenWind IT)

The idea could interest many users due to the context created by the growing electricity needs of IT infrastructures. Omdia analysts predict that generative artificial intelligence will increase energy demand tenfold over the next five years. For Fiete Dubberke, director of WestfalenWind IT, the computer center runs on more than 90% wind electricity and uses synergies to save resources overall. Installation and integration into wind turbines enables the use of existing infrastructure and building, such as the safe reinforced concrete tower and existing infrastructure for electricity and grid connection.

An embedded car manufacturer

The WindCores pilot project, which won the German Data Center Award in 2019, has since been transformed into an industrial project. TV streaming service provider Zattoo, for example, uses the concept. And a German car manufacturer also follows this principle and is currently transferring large computing capacity to the wind farm. In the future, this manufacturer wants to perform high-performance computing for AI and GenAI, as well as simulations for autonomous driving. All without affecting the climate.

AdvertisingTo do this, a computer center with 50 racks was installed in a wind turbine. Rittal provided the corresponding infrastructure, including three security rooms, IT racks, air conditioning, independent power supply (UPS) and monitoring. The operation is based on a co-location model managed by an IT service provider.

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