Apr 24, 2024

Car manufacturer uses climate-neutral data centre in wind turbine

GenAI computing power directly in the wind turbine with WestfalenWIND IT and Rittal

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) promises applications that were barely imaginable a short time ago. The Hannover Messe shows how diverse the prospects are for the industry. Where will the gigantic computing power for this come from? And how can the power grids cope with the huge energy requirements of the data centres? At WestfalenWind IT and Rittal, one new possibility is already a reality: windCORES, climate-neutral data centres directly at the foot of wind turbines. The data centres use green electricity directly where it is generated - often from excess capacity that would otherwise go unused. A German car manufacturer is taking advantage of the concept and relocating high computing power to the wind turbine.

In many situations, climate-neutral windCORES data centres run on electricity that would otherwise remain unused because the grids cannot absorb it.

The prospects offered by GenAI seem enormous. In June 2023, McKinsey predicted that the increase in productivity brought about by GenAI could add between USD 2.6 and 4.4 trillion a year to the global economy. The analysts at Omdia assume that GenAI will increase energy demand tenfold over the next five years. "It has long been clear to WestfalenWIND that we need to use every opportunity to offer computing power in a climate-friendly way," says Dr Fiete Dubberke, Managing Director of WestfalenWIND IT. "WindCORES is a good example of how the digital transformation and the energy transition can inspire each other technologically and economically if they are understood as a holistic transformation," adds Michael Nicolai, Head of Rittal IT Sales in Germany: "That's why we were immediately impressed by WestfalenWIND's idea and accepted the technical challenge for the entire data centre infrastructure at this unusual location."

From pilot project to real industry standard
The pilot project won the German Data Centre Award in 2019. Now it has become a scalable industrial project. A major car manufacturer is moving extensive applications to a WindCORES data centre with 50 racks.
In future, high-performance computing for AI and GenAI as well as simulations for autonomous driving will be run there in a climate-neutral manner. The centre is being implemented in a colocation model with an IT service provider. Rittal is supplying the complete infrastructure for WestfalenWind IT, including three security rooms, IT racks, climate control, independent power supply (UPS) and monitoring.

Making better use of wind power
"The data centre uses over 90 percent wind power and exploits synergies to save resources across the board. The installation and integration into wind turbines utilises existing infrastructure and the building, such as the secure reinforced concrete tower and existing infrastructure for electricity and grid connection," explains Dubberke. Thanks to the direct supply of wind power, windCORES' electricity costs are well below the market average. In many situations, the data centre runs on electricity that would otherwise remain unused because the grids cannot absorb it.

"Rittal relies on highly standardised infrastructure. With the actual implementation for the automotive industry, a climate-neutral data centre is available as an industry standard that can be quickly scaled for further applications in other wind turbines. This allows us to accelerate the expansion of climate-neutral IT infrastructure," says Nicolai.