What Are Solar Data Centers?

What Are Solar Data Centers?

solar data centersThere has been an obvious push to reduce emissions, carbon footprints, and other buzzwords associated with the greenhouse effect and global warming. As people turn to greener sources of energy, a new phrase has emerged in the telecommunications world – solar data centers.

Data centers are critical to the telecommunications infrastructure. They are the powerhouses of storage and are so essential to remain powered that there are typically multiple back-up energy supplies, i.e., generators, alternative lines of power. Not only is it essential for these powerhouses to stay powered, but a single-center consumes copious amounts of energy. The idea of renewable energy in ways such as solar data centers was starting to be considered as a sustainable solution.

Data Center Consumption

According to NRDC, data centers are estimated to burn nearly 140 billion kW-hours annually by next year or 2020. This transcribes to the output of 50 coal-fired power plants in one year, the emission of 100 million carbon pollution metric tons, and costs $13 billion in American electricity bills. The Independent goes on to state that not only are American data centers producing this much carbon but it is almost equivalent to 40% more than the United Kingdom’s pollution as a whole…

As more internet power is used, more data is needed, which leads to a larger impact on our environment.

Solar Data Centers Could Be A Solution

There is a clear need for data centers to adapt some source of renewable energy, but it must be practical in all aspects, not just pollution-reducing. The benefits of adopting a sustainable solution would be:

  • Reduction of carbon footprints
  • A power source which is nonpolluting and environment-friendly
  • Stable costs in comparison to fossil fuels
  • High investment costs, but low operating costs
  • Helping conserve the environment

These benefits would be extremely valuable to the telecom industry but where would the clean energy derive from? There are two common types of renewable energy used in America.

Wind-Poweredsolar data center

Wind power is derived from giant turbines generating electricity from compiling the kinetic energy produced naturally by the wind. Wind-powered data centers may sound like a sustainable solution, but the amount of energy required to replace traditional electric-powered data centers would call for an insurmountable number of turbines and various vast open spaces. In rural areas, perhaps, but in urban America, this is just not a viable solution. Datacenter providers have tested this theory and the wind power can assist with the electrical power, but nowhere near replace it.

Solar Powered

Solar power derives from the sun’s light and heat. It is generated by capturing the thermal energy and absorbing photovoltaic cells and converting these energies into a power source. The efficiency of multiple energies provides a bright possibility for solar data centers. Not only does solar energy derive a copious amount of power but it is also available in a great abundance.

Sunny Players

There are a few data center investors that are making moves in this emerging sector. According to Colocation America, Apple has invested nearly $3 million in a property located in North Carolina to support a sustainable solar data center. “According to Apple, the solar farm will produce 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually.”

Microsoft is making moves by vowing that by next year its data centers will efficiently run on 60% of renewable energy. They have been operating under a carbon tax ensuring that every level of the company is committed to cleaner energy. According to an article on ZD Net, Microsoft President Brad Smith stated that the initiative revolves around a “data-driven circular cloud initiative that will use IoT sensors, blockchain, and AI to monitor performance and streamline our reuse, resale, and recycling of data-center assets, including servers.”

Even smaller players are following the big brands’ lead. DCD reported that Plus Minor Power and Pegasus Holdings have merged to create a $3 billion solar farm in Arizona to support solar data centers. This solar farm is projected to produce 340 MWs on 717 acres of land.

When technology becomes eco-friendly, the result is a lot of pleased consumers. Data centers may evolve but acquiring location-based information regarding these powerhouses will always be essential for modern-day companies. If your company is seeking this high-level intelligence, then contact GeoTel Communications and let us help you find a solution to all your critical business decisions.


Author: Valerie Stephen

Valerie Stephen