Wind-Powered Data Center Project On Hold

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An illustration of WindData’s planned five-building data center campus in Pflugerville, Texas, which is designed to be supported by wind energy.

An oft-delayed project to build a major wind-powered data center is on hold again. Backers of WindData have scrapped plans to build a campus in a suburb of Austin that was to feature as many as five data centers. The Baryonyx Corp. says it is no longer considering a 50-acre site in Pflugerville that had been the focus of its development efforts over the past year.

“The project is alive and well and we are trying to determine the very best site to locate a data center in the greater Austin area,” Graeme Walker, the chief financial officer of Baryonyx Corp., told the Austin Statesman, who cited “complications” in due diligence for the original site and said the company may seek alternative sites in Pflugerville.

But Pflugerville, which is located just south of Dell’s corporate headquarters, may yet have a play in the data center development arena. Last month the city council approved incentives for a proposed $210 million project to build a 15-megawatt data center. Dallas-based Dimension Capital Partners is the company behind the project, which was initially code-named “Arista Data Centers.”

Visions of Vertically-Integrated Energy Development

The delay extends the timeline for a project that was first announced in 2009, and at the time represented one of the most ambitious efforts yet to make “green” power workable at data center scale. WindData offered a twist on the growing synergy between energy and data centers: a renewable energy company looking to get into the data center business.

Baryonyx is run by veterans of the wind power industry who have acquired contracts to operate wind farms in West Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. The company is building a 24 megawatt wind farm in West Texas, which is expected to be ready by the middle of next year. It is also developing two larger wind farms in the Gulf of Mexico, in Rio Grande and Mustang Island.

Baryonyx envisions WindData as a vertically-integrated operation that builds wind farms to generate energy for use in its data centers. A key advantage to this strategy is the ability to offer long-term deals on power pricing for data center tenants.

After scouting sites in several locations, WindData focused on a Pflugerville site with 10 megawatts of capacity. The company drew up plans for up to five data centers on the property. Late last year it indicated it was ready to build and expected to bring its first wind-powered facility online in late 2012.

There are a number of data center providers that use utility power that is sourced from wind generation, but only a handful of working data centers that use on-site wind generation to provide power for their servers (see Wind-Powered Data Centers for details), and none at the scale WindData is envisioning. WindData says it will line up multiple renewable energy sources so it will have power available in periods of low wind. The company plans dedicated generators for each data suite.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief 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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