Solar-Powered Data Centers

Emerson Network Power has installed this 7,800 square foot solar array on the roof of its new St. Louis data center.

Solar power hasn’t been widely used in data centers because it takes a very large installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels to produce even a fraction of the energy required by most data centers. However, there are some examples of implementations either successfully deployed or starting to “test the waters” of solar power in data center applications.

Emerson Network Power (Missouri)
Emerson looks to a Solar Future

A 100-kilowatt solar-panel array is located on the data center roof on Emerson’s corporate campus in St. Louis, Missouri. Solar power has had difficulty gaining traction in the data center industry due to cost and capacity challenges, but Emerson took a forward-looking approach for its $50 million facility, and crafted a design that could demonstrate the potential for solar-generated power in the data center.

AISO.net (California)
Solar Data Center Hosts Live Earth Site

AISO.net’s commitment to the environment includes a 100 percent solar-powered data center with an adjacent solar array. The company’s philosophy helped it garner high-profile hosting assignments such as hosting the website for Live Earth, a series of global concerts held in 2007 to address climate change. The company customized a dedicated setup to power Live Earth’s web site using energy-efficient IBM BladeCenter servers and AMD Opteron processors.

i/o Data Centers (Arizona)
Solar Power at Data Center Scale

In 2009, Phoenix IT infrastructure provider i/o Data Centers planned to deploy a huge array of solar panels on its new Phoenix ONE data center’s 11-acre roof. The company anticipates that up to 4.5 megawatts of power will be generated to supplement the energy needs of the massive facility. The installation planned for Phoenix ONE will dwarf all previous efforts to integrate solar power into a working data center. Its output will be nearly three times the 1.6 megawatts produced by the solar panels covering the roof of the Googleplex.

Sonoma Mountain Data Center (California)
Sonoma Project Features Large Solar Array

Sonoma Mountain Data Center, which is a part of the mixed-use Sonoma Mountain Village, plans to use more than 1 megawatt of solar power for the data center operations. Located north of San Francisco in Rohnert Park, Calif. the campus includes 83,000 square-foot solar array.

Intel (New Mexico)
Intel Testing Solar Power for Data Centers

At a data center in in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Intel has installed solar panels to test the potential for using photovoltaic (PV) solar energy to provide power for data centers. The array of 64 Sharp solar panels will generate 10 kilowatts of electricity, just a fraction of the amount needed to power most data centers. Yet, Intel execs say the experiment could lead the way to expansion in solar use at the chip manufacturer.

WorldBackups.net (United Kingdom)
UK Firm Plans Solar Data Center

WorldBackups.net announced plans for a 2,600-square-foot data center facility at a former BT telecom exchange in North Wiltshire, which will use a combination of solar power and advanced server energy management. This methodology for power management could set the stage for smaller data centers who want to use solar as a power source.

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