Friday, 9 October 2009

Sun to run your Sun Servers?

This blog has looked at renewable energy for Data Centres and Computer Rooms before, but an increasing amount of information is surfacing that suggests that, without any further improvement, the payback on solar panels does not make it cost effective.

Toyota have an office in California which, since 2003 has relied on the sun for 20% of its power requirements. Now we all know California is a sunny place; it enjoys on average, 263 days of strong sunlight a year, but what is the payback of their installation?

Toyota have 54,000 sq ft of solar panels on their office in Torrance which are rated at 536 kW in total. Southern California has an insolation value of between 4-5.5 depending on the source. Taking the maximum figure, that each m2 of solar panels generates 550 watts per day, we can presume that their panels generate £331 of equivalent grid power every day, or £120,810 a year. The solar panels cost Toyota $3 million, half of which was paid by the government in tax credits. Ignoring the tax credits as they vary from country to country, and including the need to replace the inverters every 12½ years (at a $240,000 cost!) payback on these panels would be 17¼ years, and after that they would save Toyota £108,785 a year off a £543,925 electricity bill, or around 20%.

What relevance is this to the UK I hear you scream? The same set-up in the London would take 157 years! By this time, the technology would become defunct and replaced by more efficient systems. For now I think we are safe using mains power until a more efficient method of power generation can be found!

Migration Solutions are a specialist Data Centre consultancy who are fiercely vendor independent. They created ERA, and Environmental Report and Assessment to take a snap shot of a facility and suggest ways to improve its efficiency and save on running costs. Information Age presented Migration Solutions with the 'Data Centre Innovation' award for this product. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

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