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Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) promises applications that were barely conceivable a short time ago. HANNOVER MESSE 2024, for example, showed just how diverse the prospects for the industry now are. But where will the gigantic computing power for this come from? And how can the power grids cope with the huge energy requirements of data centers? At WestfalenWind IT and Rittal, one possible answer to these questions is already a reality - in the form of windCORES, climate-neutral data centers located directly at the foot of wind turbines. The data centers use green electricity directly where it is generated, often from excess capacity that would otherwise go unused. A German car manufacturer is already relying on the concept and relocating high computing power to the wind turbine.

Meeting the future hunger for energy now with smart solutions

The prospects offered by GenAI seem enormous. In June 2023, McKinsey predicted that the increase in productivity brought about by GenAI could add between 2.6 and 4.4 trillion US dollars a year to the global economy. On the other hand, Omdia analysts assume that GenAI will increase energy demand tenfold over the next five years. "For WestfalenWIND, it has long been clear 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 center infrastructure at this unusual location."

From pilot project to real industry standard

In 2019, the pilot project won the German Data Center Award. Now, five years later, it has become a scalable industrial project that has prompted a major car manufacturer to relocate extensive applications to a WindCORES data center with 50 racks. In future, high-performance computing for AI and GenAI as well as simulations for autonomous driving are to be carried out there in a climate-neutral manner. The project is being implemented in a colocation model with an IT service provider. Rittal is supplying the entire 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 center uses over 90 percent wind power and exploits synergies to save resources across the board. By installing and integrating wind turbines, existing infrastructure and the building, such as the secure reinforced concrete tower and existing infrastructure for electricity and grid connection, are used," explains Dubberke. Thanks to the direct supply of wind power, windCORES' electricity costs are well below the market average. In many situations, the data center runs on electricity that would otherwise remain unused because the grids cannot absorb it.

Climate-neutral data center as the industry standard

"Rittal relies on highly standardized infrastructure. With the real implementation for the automotive industry, a climate-neutral data center is available as an industry standard that can be quickly scaled for further application in other wind turbines. In this way, we can accelerate the expansion of climate-neutral IT infrastructure," says Nicolai.

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