Will Coal Power Climate Studies Supercomputer?

NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center

NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) will build a new climate studies supercomputer. NCAR is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado but a new $66 million facility that will house the supercomputer will be built in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The primary reason is cheap electricity. In Wyoming for an industrial user the price is 5.16 cents per kilowatt hour. In Colorado it is 6.89 cents per kilowatt hour. This makes a big difference when you will be running one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, consisting of more than 100,000 processors. It will be 20 times more powerful than the current NCAR computer.

The overall project is called the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), encompassing the design and construction of a world class center for high performance scientific computing in the atmospheric and related geosciences. Says NWSC:

Our goal is to build a world class scientific supercomputing facility that does not compromise on energy efficiency or sustainability, and that is adaptable to the ever-changing landscape of high-performance computing.

In 2007, Wyoming’s electricity generation was 45,633,000 megawatt hours. 43,127,000 megawatt hours came from coal and 1,484,000 megawatt hours from renewables. Coal generates 94.5% of Wyoming’s electricity and renewables 3.25%.

I wonder how much of Wyoming’s cheap coal will power the new climate studies supercomputer?

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