Going Off The Grid: Delaware Data Center Will Generate its Own Power

There's a major data center project brewing in Delaware, with a group called The Data Centers (TDC) planning a data center near Newark.The massive project will also feature a large on-site energy component. and draw no electricity from the utility grid.

Jason Verge

May 20, 2013

3 Min Read
Going Off The Grid: Delaware Data Center Will Generate its Own Power

There's a major project brewing in Delaware, with a group called The Data Centers LLC (TDC) planning a sizeable data center near Newark. TDC says it is planning to invest more than $1 billion in the project, with construction alone for the first two phases expected to be around $400 million. The group wants to construct approximately 900,000 square feet of space.

The massive project will also feature a large on-site energy component. The facility will draw no electricity from the grid; instead, the plan is to sell power back to the grid.

This means added redundancy will be built into the project. The plant consists of a proprietary configuration of natural gas turbines, steam turbines and gas engines, with two independent natural gas supply lines on site to provide the reliability to deliver uninterrupted, fault tolerant power to the data center.

Operating as a Grid-Free Island

"The patent-pending design combines best-in-class data center energy efficiencies with the efficiencies of on-site cogeneration and tri-generation plants that can operate as an island without relying on the electrical grid as a backup," writes Bruce Myatt, CTO of The Data Centers, in a summary of the project. "That means that critical power generation with gas turbines, steam turbines, and adsorption chillers back up one another to power and cool the data center while excess power can be supplied to the grid to support demand response requirements. The facility will secure long-term gas contracts to keep operating costs low and competitive."

TDC has signed a lease with the University of Delaware to occupy a site on the STAR Campus and has lined up over half of the construction funding with investment bankers. The STAR campus is a 272-acre property purchased by the University of Delaware from Chrysler during is bankruptcy back in 2009. TDC will lease 43 acres, and will be the second tenant there, next door to Bloom Energy, which makes solid-oxide fuel cells.

Three tenants have already agreed to occupy space at the TDC facility when the site is operational in late 2014, including the University of Delaware. Opportunities exist for additional tenants to reserve space in the first phase of the facility as well.

Project Boosted by Infrastructure Grant

According to TDC CEO Gene Kern, the site will employ approximately 370 full time employees (FTE) and is expected to attract "over 90 other workers from our tenants, vendors, consultants, and our tenants’ tenants." The company has begun discussing its plans in recent weeks. Kern is a veteran IT infrastructure consultant and cofounder of WAKE Technology Services. The TDC team also include President and COO Robert Krizman, previously a senior VP at Jones Lang LaSalle, and Myatt, who is familiar to many in the industry as a co-founder of the Critical Facilities Round Table.

There’s a lot to like about Delaware, according to TDC. State officials have approved a $7.5 million infrastructure grant, with the usual caveats, including meeting certain conditions and documentation that state aid will be spent on infrastructure. State funds will help pay for bringing natural gas and water service to the site, with TDC planning to run two new, dedicated gas lines through Eastern Shore Natural Gas. Part of the $7.5 million grant will go towards building a new electrical substation near the building, which the city will own.

There’s a symbiotic relationship forming here, where TDC will bring jobs, strengthen the power infrastructure. making service more reliable in the southern part of Newark, and possibly lead to lower power costs for local residents. TDC will also lay down fiber, in addition to its secure lines, to help the university attract future tenants. Then there’s the taxes – the size of the project means that TDC will pay a combined $20 million in property taxes to the city, New Castle County, and the Christina School District

With its high reliability design and managed services capabilities, TDC says the data center has the potential to be an ideal location for high-performance computing and cloud computing operations.

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