Brilliant Idea for Paraguay's Electricity: Use it for Internet Data Centers

A few computer geeks in Paraguay have come up with a brilliant idea: to use Paraguay's vast renewable electricity surplus to support internet data centers (IDCs) for companies like Google.

The situation is this: Paraguay has a huge surplus of electricity. It consumes something like 6,000,000 MWh a year, but produces about 50,000,000 MWh a year via its two binational hydroelectric dams Itaipú and Yacyretá. Right now, this excess energy is sold to its neighbors, the co-owners of the two dams (Brazil and Argentina, respectively). This excess, however, could be used to power data centers and, even were Paraguay's domestic consumption to double or treble in the next ten years (an unprecedented growth rate), there'd still be plenty. Itaipú electricity costs about $44 per MWh--a bargain compared to what the average cost is for industry in the U.S., $67.2 per MWh in 2011.

Paraguay is a developing country and this would bring in not only revenue, but improved infrastructure. It's geologically stable (landlocked--no hurricanes or tsunamis; not on a fault line--no volcanoes or earthquakes). And it's physically close to the growing South American giant: Brazil, whose internet and data consumption is continuing to skyrocket.

The place to develop this kind of data park would be in the eastern "department" ("state") of Alto Paraná, probably actually on the site of Acaray (a small hydroelectric dam) or the Paraguayan side of Itaipú, where there's already engineering capacity, security, and the beginning of necessary infrastructure.

The entire proposal, written in Spanish, is here: Uso de energía excedente en Paraguay para alimentar centros de cómputo.

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