Solar must offset electricity shortfall: NextDC

Solar energy holds the key to driving down datacentre costs, according to NextDC CEO Craig Scroggie.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

As governments and electricity companies scale back investment in network upgrades, and electricity prices continue to rise, datacentre providers should look to solar and other alternative energies to drive down costs, according to NextDC CEO Craig Scroggie.

Speaking at the Communications Day Summit in Melbourne, Scroggie said that power for datacentres "is one of the most significant issues we will face as a country going forward", in light of factors such as the carbon tax, a lack of infrastructure investment, and electricity prices going up.

"We're going to have to think differently about how we generate supply," he said. "There is [going to be] very little investment in the power network in this country in the next three years, [and] consistency or quality of supply is going to be very important."

He said that, as consumers move their life into the cloud, they are going to expect services to be constantly on, and if electricity companies aren't investing in ensuring that networks cope with this demand, constant power is not guaranteed.

He said that datacentre providers, such as NextDC, should look to use the environment to provide power, "rather than use electricity to solve the problem." He said his main hope was solar, with the company investing AU$1.2 million in 1642 solar panels on the roof of the company's M1 datacentre in Port Melbourne. This totals 400kW of solar panels, and generates 550 megawatt hours per year, offseting 670 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Scroggie said that, in addition to providing a better guarantee for energy, the self-sufficiency would also cut the cost of running a datacentre.

"In the long run, 80 percent of operating costs in these facilities, when they're full, is electricity. Imagine if we were able to generate our own. There are huge opportunities if we can invest in solar," he said.

Scroggie predicted that the demand for cloud services, where the data is stored in Australia, will increase as governments look to ensure that Australian consumers' privacy is protected by keeping data onshore.

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