Several large data centers have opted for solar roofs this April, in an attempt to reduce their internal electricity consumption. It seems logical that they should do so, given the kind of roofs that they have. What so far didn’t really make economic sense, right now seems to be the right thing to do.
For example, the most recent facility of DataScan Technologies in Alpharetta, Georgia shows us how i’s done. Although i’s not much for the moment, this JM Family Enterprises unit plans to lower its energy consumption by 10% this year. Being the second-largest commercial location in the area, DataScan expects to produce around 285,500 kWh each year and spare the atmosphere some 205 metric tons of emissions.
According to CEO Colin Brown, there’s more to come from the company in what the eco-friendly policy is concerned, but for now what they want is to set an example for other companies to follow.
Indeed, other companies do go along this line: Cisco Systems’, BendBroadband Vaul’s and even Facebook’s employees, all have a solar roof over their head. The Cisco data center in Allen, Texas gets 100 KW of power for the interior office spaces. Not only that, but it has also set an installation to use rainwater in its irrigation systems, while applying for LEED Gold Certification.
Similar performance comes from the Facebook Company in Prineville Oregon, whose solar array also produces around 100 kW of energy, hoping to go to 204,000 kWh / year. Again, this production is meant for the office needs and some mechanical rooms, since i’s not yet sustainable enough for the server rooms. Finally, BendBroadband Vault in Oregon can brag about a better performance: it produces 18% of its expected total capacity, meaning 152 kW of power.
When I talked about facilities doing the right thing, I didn’t mean that the issue is resolved: the amount of power these solar roofs have to offer is still rather small and the best place to use it is mostly for office spaces or any other space that doesn’t require much electricity. Not to mention the scale of the investment in the installation of photovoltaic solar panels compared to the output. But environmentally-conscious companies want to turn this into a trend, hoping it will pay off in the future, at least in the air that we breathe!