Renewable Data Centers: the Wave of the Future

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solar powered data centers

It is hard to imagine our world without large companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, and Amazon. Without reliable data centers, these businesses wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

Data centers are the hub of modern civilization. We have become so reliant on technology that most information is now stored in data centers via the cloud.

To keep these data storage facilities running, a large amount of energy is required, meaning that the way this energy is generated is of significant importance to controlling costs. Any CFO at one of these large companies and others relying on data could tell you.

Data Center Energy Consumption

Data centers are constantly adding more data to their databases. With each added piece of stored information, more space and energy is needed to keep it running. Furthermore, as data compression technology fails to keep pace with cloud storage and data center bandwidth, the cost of these data centers soars.

In 2014, U.S. data centers consumed 70 billion kilowatt hours of energy. This represented almost 2 percent of the United States entire electric consumption. The data center electric consumption growth projection is 4 percent more by 2020.

Even with advancements in data storage technology, large quantities of electricity are necessary. This is why the future of data storage electricity generation is headed toward solar power.

Solar Powered Data Centers Today

Among the most impactful data centers is Switch. This company has four data centers in the United States: All four powering many tech-intensive companies.

Switch not only has taken large strides, but the company has transitioned to 100 percent renewable energy. One of these renewable sources is its Nevada solar-powered data center.

Most solar farms used to power these data giants use mono-crystalline solar panels. However, this isn’t the only solar panel option to consider for data center power supply. There are several other solar panel technologies vying to compete with the highly efficient, mono-crystalline panel.

In 2018, Switch built a gigawatt solar plant in Nevada. “Nevada enjoys the best solar window in the nation and so we Nevadans should not only be using solar for ourselves,” Said CEO and Founder of Switch, Rob Roy, “but exporting it throughout the Western U.S. to create new jobs, tax revenue, economic diversification, and raise energy independence.” This solar power plant has been the source of power for many of Switch’s customers.

Google has also been converting to solar-powered data centers. In Alabama and Tennessee, Google is building energy-efficient data centers, with solar power thrown into the mix.

These data centers are coupled with 413 megawatts of solar power from local solar farms. The production from these solar farms will cover 72 percent of the electric use for both data centers.

Data Centers’ Solar-Powered Future

Since data centers traditionally use fossil fuels, they have a large carbon footprint. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. In fact, many data centers have already started turning toward renewable energy solutions.

Greenpeace has called on major internet companies to change over to renewables since 2010. The latest scorecard showed that Facebook, Google, Switch, YouTube, Apple, WhatsApp, Instagram and Blogger.com all had “A” ratings – meaning they were all taking large strides toward powering their products with renewable energy sources, solar energy included.

These technology giants are making large strides, but there is still room for improvement. While the larger tech companies outlined above are concerned about energy efficiency, they are also giving themselves an improved brand image for environmentally conscious states in which they operate.

However, smaller companies stand to benefit from the bigger players, since slotting fees for data storage will be reduced significantly via solar-powered data centers. This will lend to more R&D dollars in data compression technology, energy efficiency, and access to sophisticated data center features.

This improvement is going to be made as more of these companies strive for clean power. The IT sector needs to move beyond energy efficiency and strive for a renewable infrastructure to truly scale its longevity.

This infrastructure wouldn’t be whole without energy backup options. Within the residential sector, solar homes have become incomplete without some form of backup. Go Solar Group offers several battery backup options because we know energy storage is key to using solar on-demand.

With the addition of battery storage/backup and other energy storage options, weather-dependent renewable energy, such as wind and solar, can become reliable options.

With the help of renewable technology, like solar power, clean energy has become more than a rich man’s game.

Now the whole world stands to benefit.

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