IBM Creates Solar Array For Data Centres

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IBM has said its new solar array is the first to be designed especially for powering IT systems

IBM has created a solar array system designed with the data centre in mind, arguing organisations could use it to reduce the carbon footprint of their existing IT infrastructure or power sites in areas without a reliable electricity supply.

The company claims the 6,000 square foot array in Bangalore, India can power 50 kilowatts of computer equipment for 330 days per year, running five hours per day. The rooftop array currently supplies nearly 20 percent of the power requirements of IBM’s India Software Lab – which consumes around 25 to 30 teraflops of compute power.

Reduced consumption

Engineers used high-voltage DC power conditioning methods and reduced AC-DC conversion losses to reduce the energy consumed by the data centre by about 10 percent compared to conventional power-supply techniques such as diesel generators.

The system is designed specifically for high-voltage data centres running both AC and DC servers and water cooling systems, and will be offered to IBM’s customers.

“The technology behind solar power has been around for many years, but until now, no one has engineered it for efficient use in IT,” said Rod Adkins, a senior vice president at IBM’s systems and technology group, in a statement.

Dr. Ponani Gopalakrishnan, a vice president at the India Software Lab, said the system could be useful in developing countries, where expensive diesel generators are normally required because the electrical grid is unreliable or non-existent.

Historically, this has made deploying data centres in such areas prohibitively expensive. Implementing this type of array, companies needing intensive infrastructure such as banks, telcos or government agencies can now set up gridless data centres since this solution, in effect, creates its own DC mini-grid inside the data centre.

“Ready access to renewable energy in emerging markets presents significant opportunities for IBM to increase efficiencies, improve productivity and drive innovation for businesses around the world,” he stated.

IBM said it will be prepared to sell the solar technology to customers by next year.

Iris Cheerin contributed to this report.

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