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斯德哥尔摩——数据中心供暖之都

更新时间:2017-11-9 19:45:30 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The city where the internet warms people's homes
斯德哥尔摩——数据中心供暖之都

“The cloud” is a real place. The pictures you post on Instagram, the happy birthday wishes you leave on Facebook pages, and the TV shows you stream on Netflix aren’t living in a nebulous ball of condensation in the sky. They live on a massive series of servers – all connected together in rows and towers in giant warehouses.

"云"是个真实存在的地方。你在Instagram上发布的照片,在Facebook页面上给朋友们留下的生日祝福,以及在Netflix上收看的流媒体电视节目,绝不是存放在某个星团之中的。它们被保存在大规模的服务器上,而且所有这些服务器都被置于巨大的机房中,层层叠叠。

Few people have ventured into these data centres. But in the Swedish capital Stockholm, I went inside these information labyrinths, and discovered that they’re not just housing data. All the heat they give off is helping to warm homes in the city of over 900,000 people. How does it work? And could it create a new business model for the tech industry worldwide?

很少有人能够进入这些数据中心。但在瑞典首都斯德哥尔摩,笔者有机会进入这些信息迷宫的内部,并且发现,这里不仅仅是存放数据的地方。这些数据中心所提供的全部热量,可以帮助这座拥有90多万人口的城市供暖。那么,瑞典是如何做到的呢?它能否为全球科技行业创造一种全新的商业模式?

Inside the labyrinth

探访迷宫

Walking through a data centre you notice a few things. The air is cool and dry. And there’s not a dust bunny to be found. The rows of server towers are covered in thousands of blinking lights and there are rarely any people. Everywhere you look across the ceiling and underneath the removable floor tiles are masses of cables running in every direction.

当你径直穿过一个数据中心时,你会注意到几件事:空气凉爽而干燥,没有任何积尘。一排排叠起的服务器被成千上万闪烁的灯光所覆盖,室内几乎看不到人。天花板上和可移动地板之下可以看到的每个地方,布满了通向各个方向的电缆。

But most of all, it’s really loud. That’s because computers get hot – and it takes a lot of fans to keep them cool enough to operate properly. Imagine the heat that your laptop generates, but multiplied across an entire warehouse: thousands of computers all connected together running non-stop, doing complicated tasks, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

但最重要的是,这里声响巨大。这是因为运行中的计算机会变热,这就需要使用很多风扇让设备保持足够低的温度,以确保它们正常运行。想象一下你的笔记本电脑所产生的热量,只不过在整个机房中散发热量可能是其成千上万倍,毕竟这里有成千上万台相互连接的电脑,全天候昼夜不停地运转,处理着复杂的任务。

Cooling mostly involves cold water and a lot of fans blowing cool air in and sucking hot air out. The heat is usually tossed out as waste.

利用冷水和大量风扇吹进凉风,同时将热空气抽走,这是最主要的降温方式。这些热量通常不会得到利用,而是当做废弃物被排出。

But heat is energy. That’s why Sweden decided to use it to heat people’s homes.

但热量也是一种能量,因此,瑞典决定利用这些热量来为其居民供热。

In Stockholm, the project is called Stockholm Data Parks and it runs in partnership with the city’s government, Fortum Värme (the local heating and cooling agency), and others. Various major Stockholm data centres take part, and the number is growing as more businesses look to bolster climate conscious reputations, and make money from a new business model. Recently, the programme announced partnerships with data centres run by major international businesses Ericsson (a builder of cellular networks that also helps broadcast BBC TV channels) and clothing retail chain H&M.

在斯德哥尔摩,这个项目被称为"斯德哥尔摩数据公园"(Stockholm Data Parks),由市政府、Fortum Värme(当地供暖和制冷公司)以及其他机构合作运营。斯德哥尔摩的各大数据中心都已参与进来,而随着越来越多的企业希望提高自身在气候意识方面的声誉,同时也希望通过一种新的商业模式获利,加入到这一项目的数据中心还在不断增长。最近,移动网络设备供应商爱立信(BBC电视频道的节目也通过其建设的网络进行播放)和服装零售连锁店H&M运营的数据中心也都加入了该项目。

Here’s how it works most of the time in Stockholm: cold water feeds through pipes into the data centre, where it’s used to create the cold air they blow on their servers to keep them from overheating. The water, which has been heated by the cooling process, then runs back out of the pipes and into Fortum’s plants where it is distributed for heating.

在斯德哥尔摩,数据公园项目主要是这样运作的:冷水通过管道送入数据中心,接着用来生成冷空气,之后吹到服务器上防止设备过热。在冷却过程中已经被加热的水从管道中排出,进入Fortum Värme的工厂,用于供暖分配。

Sweden isn’t the only country to embrace this idea. It’s happening in small-scale projects in places like Finland, where one data centre’s heat has been used to warm homes in a small city since last year. There are also programmes in the US, Canada, and France.

不过,拥抱这一创想的,并非瑞典一国。在芬兰等国,也有一些类似的小规模项目。从去年开始,位于芬兰的一处数据中心所排放的热量已被当地的一座小城用作住宅供暖的热源。与此同时,美国、加拿大以及法国也有类似的项目。

But Sweden’s decision to scale it up to this size across the country is an unprecedented experiment.

但像瑞典这样决定将实验规模扩大到全国范围则是史无前例。

Stockholm Data Parks is expecting to generate enough heat to warm 2,500 residential apartments by 2018, but the long term goal is to meet 10% of the entire heating need of Stockholm by 2035.

到2018年,斯德哥尔摩数据公园项目预计可以产生足够为2500套住宅公寓供暖的热量。而该项目的长期目标则是到2035年,满足斯德哥尔摩全部供暖需求的10%。

According to Data Centres By Sweden – which is launching Stockholm-like projects across the country – only 10 MW of energy is needed to heat 20,000 modern residential apartments. The typical Facebook data centre, for example, uses 120 MW.

负责在瑞典全境推行类似项目的瑞典数据中心(Data Centres By Sweden)提供的数据显示,仅需10兆瓦能源就可以满足2万套现代化住宅的供暖需求。而一个Facebook的数据中心通常要消耗120兆瓦的能量。

One of the main incentives for companies to join the programme in Stockholm is financial – they get to sell their waste heat. Fortum also provides free cold water for their cooling.

对于加入斯德哥尔摩项目的企业,财务回报是最主要的激励因素之一——这些公司可以出售它们废弃的热量。同时,Fortum还会免费为它们提供冷水用于数据中心冷却。

At Interxion, a company whose data centres support mobile gaming apps and other cloud-based software, the cost/benefit analysis was so promising that they’re building a whole new facility for heat capture. “It’s not philanthropic,” says Mats Nilsson Hahne, the company’s head of business development. Quite the contrary, says Peder Bank, managing director of the company's Nordic arm, “We’re trying to turn it into a secondary business.”

Interxion所运营的数据中心为移动游戏应用程序和其他基于云端的软件提供支持,该公司对相关成本/效益的分析显示,项目的前景非常之好,为此公司正在建设一套全新的设施,用以捕捉废弃的热量。公司业务拓展主管玛特斯·尼尔森·哈尼(Mats Nilsson Hahne)表示:"这么做并非慈善。"相反,该公司北欧分公司董事总经理彼得·班克(Peder Bank)指出:"我们正尝试将其转变为一项附营业务。"

Still, Interxion is sharing their engineering plans for their new business model publicly with any data centre that wants to set up shop in Stockholm. Asked why they would give their competitive advantage up, Bank reinforces the Swedish attitude about fighting climate change: “There’s a higher purpose in this than competition. A global purpose,” he says. “If I’m able to protect the higher agenda and do my business I should do that. If I am able to attract business to the region I should do that and then I should compete after. I don’t see a mismatch. We’re all living on the same planet.”

不过,对于希望在斯德哥尔摩架设分站的数据中心的机构,Interxion则毫无保留地向它们分享了公司全新商业模式的工程计划。当被问及为何要交出自己的竞争优势时,班克强调了瑞典人在应对气候变化方面的态度,他说:"还有其他比竞争更为远大的目标,这是一个全球性目标。如果我能够维护更有深远意义的议程,同时生意不受影响,那么我就应该义不容辞。如果我能够吸引其他企业到来,我还应该照此行事,然后才考虑与之竞争的事情。毕竟,我们生活在同一个星球上。"

Sweden has been embracing greener energy ideas like this for a while. According to Stockholm city climate manager Björn Hugosson, it’s because the country has few natural resources. “We don’t have any fossil resources in our ground. We don’t have oil wells or coal mines,” he says.

对于这样更加环保的能源理念,瑞典一直以来都是敞开怀抱的。斯德哥尔摩市气候负责人比约恩·休格森(Bjorn Hugosson)表示,这是因为这个国家几乎没有自然资源。他说:"我们的土地上没有任何化石资源,我们也没有油井和煤矿。"

Today, Sweden has 2,057 hydropower plants, according to the World Energy Council, which account for 40% of their energy use. The rest mostly comes from nuclear power, which is in the process of being phased out, and some coal, which is imported to the country’s one coal plant from Russia, which will be eliminated in the next five years (likely by 2020). The country hopes to be 100% fossil-fuel free by 2040.

世界能源理事会(World Energy Council)的数据显示,目前瑞典拥有2057座水电站,占其能源使用总量的40%。剩下的大部分能源来自核电,但目前正在逐步被淘汰。此外,瑞典还有一座火力发电站,其所需的煤炭由俄罗斯进口,该电站将在未来5年内被淘汰(很可能在2020年之前)。至2040年,瑞典希望能够彻底不再使用化石燃料。

Sweden also produces almost zero waste in the form of garbage. Its citizens recycle more than 99% of their household waste and only 3% ends up in landfills. The country burns about 70% of its waste to produce energy and they import garbage from neighbouring countries to help meet the energy demand they’ve created since the garbage burning programme started.

此外,瑞典几乎不产生任何垃圾。该国居民回收超过99%的家庭废弃物,仅有3%的废弃物最终被送往垃圾填埋场。在瑞典,大约70%的垃圾通过燃烧用于生产能源,与此同时,为满足自焚烧垃圾项目启动之后的能源需求, 瑞典还从邻国进口垃圾。

That said, they’re not the greenest energy user in the world. That title belongs to Iceland, where 86% of all energy use comes from renewable resources. And though Sweden manages to be 100% fossil fuel free on some days when the weather conditions are just right, their neighbour Denmark hits that goal more regularly thanks to the massive amounts of energy they generate from windmills. (So much, in fact, that Denmark sells its energy overages to neighbouring countries.)

即便如此,瑞典人并不是世界上最环保的能源使用者。这个头衔属于冰岛人,该国86%的能源来自可再生资源。尽管在天气状况良好的情况下,瑞典可以在某些日子里完全避免使用化石燃料。但在瑞典的邻国丹麦,由于风车可以产生大量能源,使得丹麦人可以更经常性地避免使用化石燃料。事实上,丹麦还能够将过剩的能源销往邻国。

So, could Sweden’s ambitious heat capture and reuse plan take off elsewhere? Perhaps, but it would need other changes to happen first. It works because the the country’s citizens rely on the government to provide them with the hot water they use to heat their homes.

那么,瑞典宏伟的热捕捉和再利用计划能否在其他地方取得成功呢?也许会,但前提是需要首先看到其他方面的一些变化。这一模式之所以能在瑞典奏效,是因为该国公民用于家庭供暖的热水依赖于政府提供。

Called “district heating,” the programme began in Stockholm the 1950s when homes were largely heated by oil. Fortum Värme started piping hot water to hospitals. When the oil crisis hit in the 1970s, the heating system expanded into homes across the country. Today Fortum sells heat to about 12,000 buildings or 90% of the city of Stockholm. At first, the heat they provided was generated by coal, but today it comes from biofuel: wood pulp left over from production by the country’s massive forestry industry, brought in to Stockholm on ships. And because Swedes recycle everything, they also reuse hot water after it goes down the drain.

所谓的"地区供热"项目始于上世纪50年代的斯德哥尔摩,当时家庭供暖主要依靠燃油。Fortum Värme最初通过铺设管道向医院输送热水。当上世纪70年代爆发石油危机时,这一供暖系统扩展到全国各地。今天,Fortum向大约1.2万栋建筑或者说斯德哥尔摩90%的城区提供热量。起初,Fortum提供的热源是通过燃煤产生的,如今则来自于生物燃料,即该国庞大的林业生产剩余下来的木浆,通过航运送往斯德哥尔摩。由于瑞典人对所有一切都回收利用,他们也会在热水排放后重新加以利用。

“Take a shower, the water that goes down the drain would get cleaned, treated, and pumped in the sea. The fish gets warmer but they don’t appreciate it,” says Jonas Collet, head of media relations at Fortum. “We figured 30 years ago that’s a waste. We could reuse that water.”

Fortum媒体关系主管乔纳斯·柯勒特(Jonas Collet)说:"过去,洗澡时流入下水道的热水经过净化处理后直接放入大海。海水变暖了,但鱼类并不喜欢。30年前,我们意识到这是一种浪费,我们可以对这些水资源再次利用。"

So if other cities wanted to follow Stockholm’s lead, they’d need the underground piping infrastructure in place and the business model of providing heat to its residents.

因此,如果其他城市希望效仿斯德哥尔摩的做法,他们就需要建设地下管道基础设施,同时要形成为居民供暖的商业模式。

This isn’t impossible. Quite a few cities around the world are doing this, including many in Canada, New York City, and almost the entire country of Iceland.

这并非不可能。世界上有不少城市已经在付诸行动,包括加拿大的很多城市、纽约市以及几乎冰岛全国。

But it shouldn't be seen as a panacea either. Bo Normark, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and a smart grid advisor to a slew of green energy companies, cautions that he believes Sweden's programme might not be infinitely scalable. Eventually the country won’t need more data centres to join in.

不过,瑞典的做法也不应被视为万能方案。瑞典皇家工程科学学院成员,同时还为众多绿色能源公司智能电网担任顾问的博·诺马克(Bo Normark)对此提出了警告,他认为瑞典的计划可能无法无限扩展。因为终有一天,这个国家可以容纳的数据中心会饱和。

“People are overestimating the need for heat. We will have a surplus of heat. We can export electricity. We can’t export heat,” Normark says. But, he adds, “in Stockholm it works because the city is fast-growing. There’s monetary value in the heat.”

诺马克说:"人们高估了对热量的需求。我们会有剩余的热量。我们可以出口电力,但我们无法出口热量。"不过,他补充道:"在斯德哥尔摩,这一方法之所以奏效,是因为这座城市发展迅速,热量有经济价值。"

And when new data centres start showing up to the fast-growing city they can get started working just as quickly. The culmination of the work by Stockholm Data Parks is found in four major data park sites around the city that are tied into the clean energy grid and equipped with a plug-and-play setup for companies to connect into the cool water delivery and heat recycling system. The first, already completed, is in the city’s “Silicon Valley,” a neighbourhood called Kista, and currently houses data centre companies like Interxion. Two more are parks upcoming in 2018 and a fourth in 2019. All data centres need to do is show up and plug in.

当新的数据中心开始在这个快速发展的城市中出现的时候,它们可以很快就加入进来。斯德哥尔摩数据公园项目由该市周边的四个主要数据公园组成,它们被接入到清洁能源电网中,并配备了一个即插即用的装置,让公司可以连接到冷却供水系统和热循环系统上。目前,首个公园项目已经完成,即当地的"硅谷"—— 希斯塔科技园区(Kista)。那里目前托管着Interxion等公司的数据中心。还有两个数据公园将于2018年投入使用,第四个数据公园将于2019年建成。所有数据中心需要做的就是完成建设,然后接入现有网络。

“We’re changing the economics of the whole industry,” says Johan Börje, Head of Marketing Data Centre Cooling and Heat Recovery at Fortum Värme. On top of that the Swedish federal government, recognising the benefit of the initiative, this year lowered the electricity tax on data centres. Sweden doesn’t want data centres to have an excuse to make their homes elsewhere in Europe.

Fortum Värme数据中心冷却和热回收市场负责人约翰·鲍耶尔(Johan Borje)说:"我们正在改变整个行业的经济生态。"除此之外,由于意识到这一计划的收益,瑞典政府今年调降了数据中心的电力税。显然,瑞典不希望数据中心找任何借口在欧洲其他地方安家。

Still, for now the developed world relies on data centres – and that demand will continue to grow. Without them, none of our devices would function and none of our information would move. And that means more and more of these technological libraries are going to be built around the planet. They can keep our digital world moving while drawing clean energy and recycling their waste at the same time – in Scandinavia and beyond.

目前,发达国家仍依赖于数据中心,这是不争的事实——而这种需求将继续增长。没有数据中心,我们的设备就无法正常使用,我们的信息也不会流动。这意味在我们这个星球上,将会出现越来越多类似于这样的"科技资料馆"。它们能够让我们的数字世界保持运转,同时在斯堪的纳维亚(北欧)和其他地方,回收废弃的资源,生产清洁能源。

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