Let’s work this through:
Deep lake water cooling uses cold water pumped from the bottom of a lake as a heat sink for climate control systems. This technology is being used in Toronto as a green and renewable energy source. Initially, the technology was developed to help air condition office buildings during the summer. However, in the last few years the technology is being used for large scale industrial cooling activity.
For example, several large scale data centres in Toronto are using deep lake water cooling both to lower costs and to position their facilities as environmentally friendly. One company recently stated that deep lake water cooling reduces energy consumption in a data centre by up to 90% compared with traditional air conditioning and also results in reduced green house gas emissions.
Data centres are the facilities where large quantities of digital information are archived (for example, Google and Microsoft operated dozens of large data centers around the world). They can use as much energy as a small pulp mill (15MW to 30 MW) per year with most of that cost going towards cooling the large data storage devices.
Data centres typically use a significant amount of space (15,000 to 100,000 square feet or more) and employ a relatively small staff – normally between 30 and 100 or so.
I guess the issue is will we ever get to a point where we can do a feasilibity study on this for New Brunswick? We could bring in the Toronto company that shows it can work, scope out the cost of setting up a deep water cooling energy park in – I don’t know somewhere outside of Saint John (or maybe Belledune?) – and at least get a real idea of the costs and benefits of this type of thing. If we could generate enough ‘energy’ to cool four or five large data centres at a cost well below NB Power – that might be the value proposition right there.
Think about it. Even it if costs $20 million or even more to install the system, if you can generate 300 or 400 high paying data centre jobs – with no additional incentives – you would get payback on that $20 million in four years (not including the multiplier effect). 400 jobs, $12,000 in taxes paid (HST, personal income and property) = $4.8 million in new tax revenue each year.
Imagine the political resonance if you attracted 300-400 $75,000/year data centre jobs to Belledune and the young people needed to work in them?
Or maybe the technology could be used for some other industrial cooling efforts?
Or we can put billions into nuclear or some other form of energy and hope for the best.