The visions of Texas billionaires Mark Cuban and T. Boone Pickens are intersecting in a data center project in Dallas, which will include up to four major data centers powered by renewable energy – including electricity generated from garbage and sewer sludge.
CASE Commercial Real Estate is finalizing plans for a 10-megawatt, 150,000 square foot data center as part of Cuban’s Wonderview project, a 175-acre mixed-use development that will also include Cuban’s corporate headquarters, practice facilities for the Dallas Mavericks, offices, restaurants, housing and hospital facilities.
“We’re basically ready to go,” said Ken Walter, Senior Managing Director at CASE Commercial, who said the data centers at Wonderview will be designed with major enterprise tenants in mind. The facilities will be built with extra-thick concrete walls that will be able to withstand a direct hit from an F4 tornado, and meeting current DOD and Homeland Security requirements for blast tolerances, Walter said.
Cogen Plant Provides Renewable Power
The energy for the data centers will come from a combination of wind power and a nearby cogeneration plants operated by Synergy Renewables, a company backed by Pickens that generates renewable fuel through a waste-to-energy conversion process. The fuel sources will include sludge from a nearby water treatment plant, medical waste and city garbage diverted from landfill disposal.
When garbage arrives at a Synergy cogeneration facility, waste is shredded and moisture is added to create “feedstock.” High temperatures are used to convert the waste feedstock into a gas called synthesis gas. This gas is fired in an internal combustion engine to produce electrical power or in a boiler to create steam for a steam turbine. The only residue is an inert ash which can be used in construction materials.
The process produces a net reduction of greenhouse gases, Synergy says. Garbage diverted from landfills to the waste-to-energy facility will eliminate methane, a greenhouse gas that forms when waste is landfilled. For every ton of garbage that is diverted from a landfill and used as fuel in the waste-to-energy facility, there will be an elimination of approximately one ton of greenhouse gases (CO2e) that otherwise would be emitted into the atmosphere.
The electric cost for the waste-to-energy electricity at Wonderview is expected to be slightly more expensive than the local utility – perhaps between 1 cent and 1.25 cents per kilowatt hour more. But Case’s Walter said current wholesale rates but could be fixed over a 20 year period. Long-term stability in power pricing is appealing to data center users concerned about potential price fluctuations due to changes in the business and regulatory environment for utilities.
Other green initiatives will include a grey water line to the waste treatment plant to allow data centers access to free water to their chillers and evaporative cooling systems. Recycled or “grey” water isn’t fresh or drinkable but is not contaminated by any toxic substances or toilet wastes. Grey water is considered environmentally friendly because it reduces demands for fresh water and doesn’t consume the energy required to purify it at waste water treatment sites.
Walter is working on the Wonderview project with Joe Cavagnaro, Senior Managing Directo of Development for CASE, who previously served as director of real estate services for The Mark Cuban Companies ,where he began working on the Wonderview venture. Cavagnaro also spent 14 years at Stream Realty, a Dallas real estate company that has been active in the data center market.