Car batteries to help keep Europe's data flowing

Electric vehicle sticker Image copyright PA
Image caption If electric vehicles and hybrids prove popular, Europe could be left with a stockpile of batteries

Batteries that once powered electric cars could soon be helping manage the energy demands of Europe's data centres.

The idea is to use lots of old batteries as stores that can supply power on demand at peak times.

About 2.5% of all European energy is sucked up by servers in data centres. This is expected to grow to 5% by 2019.

A 4.3m euro (£3.6m) research project is looking at new ways to maintain Europe's computer infrastructure.

Called Green Data Net, the project is looking at using both hardware and software to do a better job of getting power from where it is generated to the data centres where it is needed.

While Europe is making more use of wind and solar energy, the power from these sources is often not supplied exactly when it was needed.

Using lots of partially degraded car batteries as a store could be one way that power could be stockpiled as it was generated and then supplied to data centres at peak times, said documents describing the Green Data Net initiative.

Batteries for electric cars have a shelf life of about 14 years before the constant charging and re-charging makes them unsuitable for use in such vehicles.

If electric or hybrid cars prove popular in Europe, the region could end up with a stockpile of old lithium ion batteries that are no longer useful for cars but are still broadly functional.

"Affordable and reliable batteries could have a second life in data centres and in the home, starting around 2020," a spokesman for Nissan told TechWeek as the Green Data Net consortium was launched.

Alongside the car battery pools will go software that does a better job of shunting power around electricity grids to meet demand.

The EU has put 2.9m euros into the total cost of the Green Data Net project and the rest is coming from industrial partners.

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