LONDON, England - A new Internet “hotel” claims it has the answer to a huge power crisis facing Europe`s major cities caused by the growth of computer centres.
The “hotel” has become the first in Europe to be built with its own power station to overcome problems caused by the large amount of electricity it will use.
The state of the art building, at London`s Heathrow Airport, will house up to 8,500 racks of computer hardware used in powering commercial Web sites.
The company behind the “hotel” - not a hostel for human guests but a website hosting centre - says that when fully up and running, the building will require enough electricity to serve four typical hospitals.
That is the same amount, it adds, as used by half the centre of Amsterdam, and enough to keep 480,000 electric kettles on the boil at one time. But a $31 million (£22 million) energy centre will provide the 24 megawatts of electricity needed, without which a large strain would be placed on London`s power supply.
Some 200 Internet “hotels” are planned in Europe in the next four years. It has been estimated that the demand for power in many major cities will increase by 20 percent as a result. The Guardian iT Group believes it has come up with a solution to sidestep the power supply shortages threatening to hold back the £11 billion market for Internet “hotels.”
Its new £50 million site at Heathrow will rely on its own gas-fired power station as its primary power source.
The company says the major IT and telecom companies are racing to open Internet “hotel” sites to cash in on the growing demand from e-commerce and e-tailing. It says the availability of sufficient power is a major factor in deciding their location, and areas that are unsuitable are missing out on massive amounts of “new economy” investment.
Gary Growns, managing director of the iXguardian subsidiary, said: “Our business is Web hosting, not building energy centres, and in an ideal world we would not do it. “But local electricity suppliers could only supply a small fraction of our energy needs on this site, and it would have taken them an additional eighteen months to do it. “By generating our own power we can ensure we can meet the energy needs of our customers immediately, well into the future.”
With 200,000 square feet, the Internet “hotel” at Heathrow will be the largest in Europe. It hopes to save £3 million a year generating its own electricity, thus recovering its build costs in about seven years. Excess heat from its six generators will help cool the site. The heated air will be pumped into a heat exchanger where it will be condensed to create chilled air.
This will maintain the temperature required to ensure the computer equipment can operate efficiently. Under normal circumstances the company would have had to power a separate air conditioning system.
Businesses are increasingly turning to Internet “hotels” to house their Web servers, with security being a major attraction.