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Rival data centre bid

By Gungahlin Al - 31 October 2008 39

Putting the lie to TRE’s accusation that investors would stay away from Canberra in droves, another investment group has revealed advanced plans for a data centre and associated stand-by power station.

On 666 this morning, two reps of the proposal explained that they have identified a site, have had discussions with Liberals and Greens (nothing sinister there – just ran out of time to meet ALP one said), and are very cognisant of resident concerns about siting, viewsheds, etc.

It was a refreshing perspective from them, as opposed to the vitriolic anti-Canberran, let us do what we want or we’re taking our bat and ball elsewhere approach of TRE.

And given that one criticism I have put forward of TRE’s proposal is that in this era we shouldn’t be building GHG-emitting power stations – even if they are less-worse than coal, this new proposal is looking at solar thermal for supplementing their grid power requirements plus providing for stand-by needs.

UPDATED: Amanda Bresnan is claiming this development vindicates Green policies.

What’s Your opinion?

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39 Responses to
Rival data centre bid
caf 3:51 pm 31 Oct 08

I think that your assumption a) is a big leap (I would tend to assume that the rate of precipitation is proportional to the concentration of water vapor), and also that the reason water has more effect that carbon dioxide is because there is a lot more of it – on a molecule-vs-molecule basis it’s far less effective.

aidan 3:44 pm 31 Oct 08

I’m no expert. That’s why I trust the real climate scientists.

Kramer 3:44 pm 31 Oct 08

Great steam & solar power for a data centre! So where’s the rest of the power coming from??? The orginal data center plans, with the scaled down power plant was for 28MW (let alone the 100MW power plant). I don’t think the steam & solar plant will be able cover power requirements for the data centre.

What happens when the sun goes down? Do we fire up the coal power plant next door?? or do we store power in a UPS / battery farm with enough hydrochloric acid to drown & dissolve the whole of Canberra?!?

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 3:19 pm 31 Oct 08

Water vapour is a feedback, carbon dioxide is a forcing.

Fair enough, but is the effect linear? Does ALL the water vapour convert back to other forms, or are higher concentrations remaining?

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 3:17 pm 31 Oct 08

OK, now we have a discussion!

Fair point caf, but I’d suggest that the average time of a water molecule being mobile in the atmosphere is related to the concentration of such water molecules. I base this hypothesis (and that’s all it is) on the way in which the paper describes how the 9 day figure was calculated (rather than measured), being that it was calculated using average global precipitation.

Some brief research (including indicates that average global precipitation doesn’t seem to change much, and also that the warmer the atmosphere, the more water molecules it can hold. Accordingly, it seems reasonable to assume that:
a) because average precipitation globally doesn’t seem to be changing, the atmosphere simply retains additional water vapour that is added to it; and
b) the greater the concentration of water in the atmosphere, the more th planet warms, leading to further ability to absorb air borne moisture.

So, it seems to me that water molecules in air are more of an issue than carbon (because there’s more of it and it has a greater effect). This in no way trivialises carbon emissions and impacts.


aidan 3:15 pm 31 Oct 08

Water vapour is a feedback, carbon dioxide is a forcing. To (mis)quote Paul Krugman (latest economics (sort of) Nobel Laureate):

If you hear someone say something along the lines of “water vapour is a more important greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide”, never mind who he is, or how plausible he sounds.He might as well be wearing a flashing neon sign that reads I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT

peterh 3:10 pm 31 Oct 08

after reading a bit more on the deep dish technologies that are at the heart of the solar technology being proposed, I cannot see much in the way of steam being lost, as it is used to power turbines, then presumably through some sort of process or at least a method to re-liquefy the steam into water, it can be reapplied into the start of the system.

hardly a lot of waste steam.

much better than a fossil fuel turbine, maybe TRE could locate next to the molonglo treatment plant? must be a lot of methane there…

Gungahlin Al 3:06 pm 31 Oct 08

Indeed Caf. Water vapour also contributes to cloud formation, and increased cloud would also increase albedo, thereby *reducing* greenhouse. But all in measures so small as to be incapable of being measured. CO2 on the other hand…

caf 3:03 pm 31 Oct 08

The very same paper points out that there is a very rapid turnover of water vapor in the atmosphere – the average water molecule remains in the atmosphere for only 9 days before precipitating back to the surface, making the forcing effects of extra water vapor negligble. The turnover of atmospheric carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is measured in years rather than days.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 2:44 pm 31 Oct 08

Steam and/or water vapour cause more impact in terms of the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ than carbon emissions, and present in larger quantities also. Typical of many ‘green’ supporters not to let facts stand in the way of self righteousness..

Whatsup 2:34 pm 31 Oct 08

I don’t have an issue with steam being released into the atmosphere… as long as that is all it is.

Gungahlin Al 2:29 pm 31 Oct 08

“TRE can stick their exhaust stacks !”

Robson did say the solar thermal power installation would also require cooling towers – but I’d point out the only thing coming out of them would be steam – bit different…

peterh 2:23 pm 31 Oct 08

the consortia has already started a polaris datacentre in QLD. so they know what they are doing. One of the consortia members, Wizard power, is owned by Tony Robey, who used to run Wizard – the IT & Recruiting company. more info on what he is doing re solar power, can be found here:

it is interesting to note that the consortia are utilizing solar power technologies developed by the ANU. Nothing beats home grown!

AG Canberra 2:05 pm 31 Oct 08

Geez – I proposed this earlier this week – solar panels on all of our north facing roofs. Do I get a commission Mr Data centre operator?

Whatsup 2:02 pm 31 Oct 08

At face value it sounds reasonable. And if they wanted to put their power generating solar thermal thingy-majigs near my backyard… they are most welcome.

TRE can stick their exhaust stacks ! And don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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