Switch Contracts for Solar Power for Its Entire Data Center Footprint
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Switch Contracts for Solar Power for Its Entire Data Center Footprint

Second solar power purchase agreement brings colo firm’s total to 180 MW

Switch, operator of the massive SuperNap data center campus in Las Vegas, has signed its second solar power purchase agreement, which will ensure all of its Nevada data centers are fully powered by renewable energy.

The company announced last year an agreement to buy energy generated by a 100 MW solar farm in southern Nevada and made a commitment to powering its data centers 100 percent with renewable energy, as it became one of the first two data center providers to join the White House-driven climate pledge for the private sector. Switch signed the second PPA, for energy from an 80 MW solar project that's also being built in southern Nevada, in December.

The company doesn’t disclose how much power its data centers consume. However, according to Adam Kramer, executive VP at Switch, the 180 MW in capacity it has contracted for will be enough to offset consumption of its existing Las Vegas campus as well as the new one it is building near Reno, Nevada, where the anchor tenant will be eBay.

Investments in renewable energy by Switch and Equinix – the second data center provider that joined the American Business Act on Climate Pledge late last year – signal a rise in demand for renewable energy by data center customers.

Equinix is the biggest retail colocation provider in the world, and you’d be hard pressed to name a major provider of cloud or other internet services who does not use its facilities. Last year, Equinix agreed to buy enough renewable energy to offset energy consumption of its entire North American portfolio.

Switch, while smaller than Equinix, has some of the most well-known brands on its roster of 1,000 or so customers. The company lists Google, DreamWorks, HP, Boeing, Fox, Microsoft, and Cisco as its customers. Many of them, such as HP, Google, and Cisco, have also joined the climate pledge, and many who haven’t joined still have renewable energy as part of their corporate sustainability goals.

“The interest [in renewable energy] has picked up dramatically,” Kramer said about customer demand. “We’ve seen enormous interest.”

First Solar will build the two solar projects that will supply clean energy to Switch. Named Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2, they are expected to come online before the end of 2016.

Switch will be buying the energy from its southern Nevada utility NV Energy, using a special renewable energy tariff that was established last year, partially as a result of negotiations between the data center provider and the utility. The rate Switch will pay for the energy will include all of the costs associated with operating the solar farms.

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