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Data center running on solar power?

Posted: 23 Nov 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:high-voltage data centers? solar energy? computing system?

IBM Corp. has revealed that its installation of a 557.42m2 array of solar panels in Bangalore, India can power a data center. In fact, it claims that the harnessed energy can run 50kW of computer equipment for about 330 days a year, operating five hours a day.

The solar data center powerhouse is thought to be the first of its kind and could help companies in the developing world have access to electricity in places where the infrastructure grid is either inherently unstable or virtually non-existent.

IBM said it had specifically designed its solar farm to run high-voltage data centers, integrating AC- and DC-based servers, water-cooled computing systems and related electronics. IBM added that the system in Bangalore can provide compute power of 25-30 teraflops using an IBM Power Systems server on a 50kW solar power supply.

The company said that by using high-voltage DC power conditioning methods and reducing AC/DC conversion losses, it could cut energy consumption of data centers by about 10 percent. This would make a serious dent in terms of decreasing carbon emissions and the need for more polluting diesel based fuel systems, on which generators are usually run. This would also tailor solar technology for wider use in industrial IT and electronics installations.

IBM's solar farm

IBM's solar farm in Bangalore, India

"The technology behind solar power has been around for many years, but until now, no one has engineered it for efficient use in IT," noted Rod Adkins, SVP at IBM's systems and technology group, adding that this was the first time a firm had thought to bring clean, reliable and efficient power to energy-intensive, industrial-scale electronics.

Ponani Gopalakrishnan, VP at IBM's India software lab said the initial solar deployment was powering almost 20 percent of the local branch's data center energy requirements and that the experiment represented "significant opportunities for IBM to increase efficiencies, improve productivity and drive innovation for businesses around the world."

It's thought IBM may even be able to store the incoming energy in batteries for use as and when it's needed. The firm said it plans on packaging the service in order to sell it to customers by next year.

- Sylvie Barak
??EE Times





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