White Data Center in Bibai, Hokkaido, plans to raise eels using exhaust heat from snow used to cool servers. (Video by Hiraku Toda)
BIBAI, Hokkaido—A data center here that uses snow to cool its heated servers is now using melting snow to raise eels.
About 1,700 elvers flown in from Kobe were released into tanks at a White Data Center (WDC) facility on February 25. WDC plans to market the adult fish as “the first eel farmed in Hokkaido”.
The company’s goal is to use the heavy snowfall that causes problems for Bibai residents every winter as a source of energy. It started data center business in April last year, and construction of a large building will begin for full-scale operation in fiscal 2022.
The company plans to take advantage of snow collected from the streets to reduce air conditioning costs and carbon dioxide emissions while cooling servers and networking equipment that runs around the clock.
The process raises the temperature of melting snow to 33 degrees, so the warmed liquid can be used for growing eels.
WDC, which plans to secure its income through the indoor cultivation of agricultural and fishing products until the data center business is going life size transaction, tested abalone, sea urchin, spinach with Japanese mustard, cherry tomatoes and other produce.
The company chose eels and cobs as the first products because they can be shipped after short cultivation cycles.
A Kobe-based company called Kobe Unagi Tansui provides the elvers and farming techniques.
In November last year, WDC set up a 6,000 eel farm with the help of the city of Bibai. The water temperature in the tanks will be maintained at 27 degrees year-round, and filtered snowmelt will be used to help determine if the eel’s taste and growth rate are improving.
The eels will be farmed for seven months to at least 250 grams before shipment. An annual shipping target of 300,000 eels has been set for 2023.
Eels are expected to be sold nationwide and offered for local school meals.
Kota Honma, director of the WDC and president of the Bibai Nature Energy Research Association, who has studied how to use snow as cooling energy with officials from the city, industry and academia for 25 years, expressed high expectations. .
“The northernmost region where eels live in the wild is Aomori Prefecture,” he said. “Eel farming was not practiced in Hokkaido. We want to market eels produced in Hokkaido raised in a hygienic indoor environment.