In the first offer of its kind “Down Under”, an Australian data centre is now offering customers the option to use 100% renewable energy for their servers. The option is available thanks to a brand-new AUS $1.2 million solar array installed on the data centre's roof. The array was designed and installed by Energy Matters, a Melbourne-based company and one of the largest solar technology enterprises in Australia.
The 401 kW solar electric system needs 3000 m² of roof space to generate approximately 550 MWh of electricity annually, according to reports. The company says its solar electric generation will offset approximately 670 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year however, the only downside is that it generates but a fraction of the total power and cooling needs of the facility.
Company officials say the solar array will only create about 5% of the energy needed to run the data centre facility. As a result, only a limited number of customers will be able to take advantage of the 100% renewable energy option. However, among those who do, it is a great selling point they can turn around and use for their own marketing purposes.
Energy Matters' Nick Brass was quoted by The Fifth Estate as praising data centre owner NEXTDC for making the move into solar energy. He said the company “has not only taken a leadership role by being the first data centre in Australia to make such a meaningful commitment, its foresight means it has effectively locked-in a sizeable portion of its energy bills for the next 25 years and beyond.”
Another Small Step
Anyone interested in seeing renewable energy advanced around the world will welcome the news regarding the NEXTDC data centre. Although it may seem like only a small step, multiple small steps add up to very large ones. What starts out as a project to generate 5% of the data centre's total energy needs may someday grow to 100% as technology allows, and that's very much the goal here.
The ever-increasing speed and raw power of today's computer systems dominates data centre news around the globe. But never forget that the supercomputers of today and tomorrow need exponentially more energy to operate at maximum capacity and that energy has to come from somewhere.
Making a concerted effort to develop renewable energy sources to feed future computer needs is not only wise; it is the moral responsibility of everyone involved in the industry. From data centres to web hosting companies to equipment manufacturers, everyone needs to continue pressing forward into a future where more renewable energy is developed.
As for the Australian project, it is still so new that we are unable to draw any concrete conclusions about its success however, we trust that things will be different a year from now. We are fairly confident the solar array will deliver as promised and that customers of NEXTDC will be thrilled to take advantage of the option to use 100% renewable energy.
1. The Fifth Estate – http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/archives/58151/