Solar-Powered Micro Data Center at Rutgers

The Parasol micro data center system consists of a rooftop container, small solar array and a battery bank. (Photo: Rutgers University)

The Rutgers Computer Science Department has built a solar-powered “micro data center” comprised of a small container, a set of solar panels, and batteries. The system, known as Parasol, hosts two racks of energy-efficient Atom servers (up to 160 of them) and networking equipment. The container uses free cooling whenever possible, and direct-exchange air conditioning for the balance of its operatiins. Three manual switches enable different configurations for the energy supply, with power monitoring infrastructure to quantify how much energy is drawn from each available source. The Rutgers team has developed workload scheduling software programs, known as GreenHadoop (PDF) and GreenSlot (PDF), that match workloads to solar generation, much like HP’s approach to a “net zero” data center that we featured earlier this week. The Rutgers team is also developing GreenNebula, a customization of the OpenNebula cloud management software designed to eventually maximize the green energy use by migrating virtual machines across green data centers. In this video, Rutgers’ Ricardo Bianchini discusses the Parasol project.

For more on Green Data Centers, see our Green Data Centers Channel. For additional video, check out our DCK video archive and the Data Center Videos channel on YouTube.

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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.

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  1. Great project! My regards from Barcelona to professor Bianchini and their team at Rutgers.

  2. Good post on this, Rich. The Parasol project was taking a lot of darts in last month's conversations, IMO because as soon as one hears "solar powered datacenter" one immediately jumps to negative conclusions. The very small number of racks, and the use of Atom processors is important to keep in mind, given that solar power density is only around 100-125 or so W/SF, and PV cells are only around 15% efficient, so we can't expect a whole lot of energy production. The mention of Green Hadoop and Green Slot for workload scheduling against PV energy generation is important as well. In short, all good info to clarify what's taking place here. (I'm wondering why they didn't bother to change the color of the roof beneath the installation) Kudos to the Rutgers team for giving us another good reference point for data center alternative energy.