4.5-Megawatt Solar Roof on 538,000 Square Foot Phoenix ONE Data Center
The giant data centers required by the internet age can often look like big boxes, and just like some big box stores have found that all those square feet on the roof could be used for solar panels, some data centers are starting to follow suit: "Phoenix IT infrastructure provider i/o Data Centers is installing a huge array of solar panels on the 11-acre roof of its new Phoenix ONE data center. The company says the photovoltaic panels will generate up to 4.5 megawatts of power to supplement the energy needs of the massive facility." Read on for more details.
Close up of a storage rack
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.
The first phase of 5,000 solar panels in Phoenix is scheduled to be operational in January, and will generate 500 kilowatt-peak (kWp), the company says. The array will be expanded in four additional phases during 2010 to reach a total capacity of 4.5 megawatts-peak.
So it will take a little while to get to peak power. Maybe Google will try to stay on top and expand its installation, though that might not be possible if they've run out of rooftop at the Googleplex (but they could install some solar panels at their data centers).
But those 4.5 megawatts will only be about 6% of the 80 megawatts required by the 538,000 square foot Phoenix ONE data center. That thing is hungry for power!
Thermal Storage System
One of the cool things they're doing to further reduce their power cost is to run the A/C chillders at night, off peak, when power is least expensive (and also greener), and 'store' some of that cool in a thermal storage system (which is basically a big tank of water and glycol). When things get hotter during the day, that all that thermal mass can absorb a lot of the heat and reduce the load on the cooling system.
George Slessman, the CEO of i/o Data Centers, said that this thermal storage system, combined with the solar panels (producing an average of 3 megawatts during the day) could reduce their power costs by about 50%. That's big bucks!
More data centers should do things like that. It would help make the internet greener, and can also save a lot of money to data center operators, especially since energy prices are probably not coming down anytime soon.
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