Cow manure from dairy farms could help power Google and Microsoft

Hey diddle diddle. Guess what the cow has done this time? America’s dairy farmers could soon find themselves in the computer business, with the manure from their cows possibly powering the vast data centers of companies like Google and Microsoft.


While not immediately intuitive, the idea plays on two trends: the building of computing centers in more rural locales, and dairy farmers’ efforts to deal with cattle waste by turning it into fuel. With the right skills, a dairy farmer could rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuel systems within two years, Hewlett-Packard engineers say in a new research paper.

The rise of higher-speed data transfer networks has given technology companies a chance to move farther from large populations and still be able to get information to them as quickly as they need it. So companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have been engaged in a mad dash to find spots in the US that have plenty of electricity and land. If those locations are near dairy farms, so much the better.

Rather than being an alternative energy convenience, this approach could benefit companies operating in countries like China and India that need to find an economical way to power their computing centers. “The average cow makes enough waste per day to power a 100-watt light bulb,” said Michael Kanellos, editor in chief at Greentech Media, a research and publishing firm.

According to HP’s calculations, 10,000 cows could fuel a 1MW data center, the equivalent of a computing center used by a bank.

Via Times of India