Surpass Weighs Solar for New Data Center

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HostDime/Surpass Hosting is planning to build a third data center, and is studying whether the solar power technologies used to power the AISO data center can work on a larger facility. Kayla Fleming, a VP of Surpass Hosting, says the new facility will be a ground-up “greenfield” build of about 50,000 square feet. Since the Orlando, Fla. company will be designing its own facility, it is looking into energy efficient technologies.

“One possibility we are researching at the moment is using solar energy,” Fleming writes on her blog. “Since this data center can be exactly what we want it to be, we are seeking out all of our options, though it seems that doing this will be more expensive than we thought.”

AISO, a small hosting company in Romoland, Calif., has received widespread publicity for its status as the only data center known to be powered completely by energy from solar panels. But AISO’s entire data center is just 2,000 square feet, with a 400-square-foot server room. A photo slide show at SearchDataCenter.com gives a sense of the scope of AISO’s operations.


“It would seem easy to have a solar powered data center of that size,” Fleming writes. “But we are already using 12,000 square feet of our space and we would need an extreme amount of energy/batteries to pull this off.”

Cost is often cited by businesses as the primary barrier to adopting solar power. The issue for data centers, as Fleming notes, is capacity. As a case study, let’s look at Google’s solar power installation at its Mountain View headquarters, which is presumably an efficient system. Google has deployed 197,000 square feet of solar panels on its rooftops to create a 1.6 megawatt system to support its office buildings. By today’s data center standards, 1.6 megawatts isn’t a lot of power. That math suggests that powering a 10-megawatt data center could require close to 1.5 million square feet of solar panels.

Fleming says Surpass is committed to an energy efficient facility. “If solar panels do not work out, I would like to at least create a green roof to absorb the Florida heat,” she writes.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

2 Comments

  1. What a surprise to see this article. Thank you! I'll be sure to post our progress as research goes on.

  2. Mark

    Looks good Rich, it will be interesting to see if larger companies with larger data centers will be able to get solar energy to handle their power needs. Obviously Google is going for it. Even if they could use solar for part of their data center and then use the traditional utility as backup, they could save in costs.