July 13th, 2010 By: Rich Miller
In coming years, the data center industry will face growing pressure to find workable ways to integrate renewable energy sources into projects. The demand is being driven by two trends: the growth of corporate social responsibility programs that focus on carbon neutrality, and the potential for federal legislation in the U.S. that will place caps on carbon emissions.
While data centers aren’t specifically targeted by these initiatives, companies with carbon reduction pledges will find their data centers are among the largest energy users – meaning that sourcing data center power from renewable sources could be a major factor in meeting corporate carbon goals.
But most renewable energy sources come with a premium price tag and have problems reaching the scale required to successfully support the power requirements of an entire data center.
In this special report, we look at the challenges of implementing renewable energy solutions in data centers, and also highlight early adopters who have implemented on-site renewable solutions. Here’s an overvew:
- Renewable Energy vs. Improved Efficiency: It’s tough to make solar power work at data center scale, and photovoltaic solar arrays are more expensive than most alternatives. As utilities make slow progress on renewable-sourced power, data centers face pressure from environmental groups. But is energy efficiency a a more productive focus than renewable sourcing?
- Solar-Powered Data Centers: Emerson Network Power, i/o Data Centers and AISO are among the companies that have implemented on-site solar solutions.
- Wind-Powered Data Centers: Only a handful of companies have implemented wind turbines in working data centers, but new players have some ambitious plans in this area.
- Geothermal Data Centers: A number of data centers in the Midwest are using geothermal cooling in their data centers. Then there’s Iceland and its plentiful supply of geothermal energy.
- Waste Heat Reclamation: Most data centers are already generating an energy source: the heat emerging from the back of their server racks. Here’s a look at some facilities that are reusing this waste heat.
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