The Google paper mill

Everyone’s excited that Google has bought an old paper mill in Finland for a large data centre.   Could that be a potential for NB’s old mills?  Possibly but you have to understand that Google wants the site for its access to cheaper hydroelectrical power.  A large Google data centre uses almost as much power as as paper mill.  Hydro is considered clean and it continues to be relatively low costs.

If you scroll down in this report to page 17 in this report you will see that New Brunswick has the second highest electricity cost structure among these seven Canadian provinces for large industrial users (such as Google).  Why would Google put a data centre in New Brunswick when they could save almost $700,000/month by putting one in Manitoba?

I think that data centres should be an opportunity for New Brunswick but I think we would need to get around the power problem -somehow.  It is a structural barrier to attracting any electricity intensive industries.

Could we pump cold water in from the Bay of Fundy to cool the data centre?  Could we put one on top of the natural gas out in Sussex?   Would everyone in the province agree to pay $200/year more on our electricity bill to allow NB Power to have a lower large industrial rate?

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5 Responses to The Google paper mill

  1. mikel says:

    Judging from the reaction with the other industrial users I’d say that taxpayers wouldn’t want to foot the bill, but we really don’t know. But keep in mind that the province has one of the charitable corporate taxes in the country when it comes to costs. So not everything is about energy costs if the company can save that money elsewhere.

    But that brings us back to renewables. What if in miramichi they made solar panels, and some industrial park somewhere built a wind farm and solar park. That’s even BETTER than hydroelectricity. The initial costs are lower, unless a dam is already built. Plus, as has been seen, hydro can sometimes be problematic depending on how much rain and snow one gets.

  2. richard says:

    The province also has a forestry sector that produces biomass that has potential as a fuel source.

  3. Rob says:

    The cold water from the Bay of Fundy would offset alot of the chilled water requirements of the data centre. A similar location in Manitoba would require large chillers and cooling towers to adequately cool the data racks.

    The Fundy coast also boasts cool summers and mild winters, which also offsets energy demands. The Manitoba location would require much more heating energy in winter, and somewhat more cooling energy in summer.

    The forest sector has energy demands that are largely independent of climate. A data centre which is dependent on mechanical cooling is very dependent on climate. Perhaps that’s why Hamina, a northern city on the Baltic Sea, was chosen.

  4. Phoff says:

    Here’s asimilar argument being made yesterday for Québec to wake up to these kinds of opportuunities:

    http://intercommunication.blogspot.com/2009/02/limplantation-de-fermes-de-serveurs-de.html

  5. Anonymous says:

    Simple, The Hydro of Canada have always been a Government job creator for their political friends. But in the real world you really need to know what you are doing. Quebec, Ontario, NB Hydro are in deep debt. Why?

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