Wind-powered Texas data center moves closer to reality

Project spearheaded by Baronyx and subsidiary WindData will draw power from offshore wind farms.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

I used to hear a lot more about data centers powered by alternative energy two years ago, before energy efficiency measures started stealing some of the government and utility incentive thunder.

But WindData, an operator owned by renewable energy and data center project developer Baronyx, apparently is still hard at work on a $70 million data center project outside of Austin, Texas, that is supposed to be completely powered by wind energy. Yep, that's right, Texas. When it is hot, the coastal winds apparently kick up nicely, helping fuel the growing demand for power in the state.

The site (rendering above), which will eventually include five buildings, will be powered by offshore wind farms near Texas, and it is slated for completion in approximately three years. It could be placed in service by early 2013, according to Baronyx executives.

The 50-acre site in Pflugerville, Texas, was chosen for its fast-growing population and for the strong local support of green energy alternatives by businesses and municipal agencies in the area. It is near the Dell corporate headquarters, and is supported by a 10-megawatt substation. There is space for two additional substations in the area, with a combined potential capacity of 60 megawatts.

"Businesses and the government want to be seen as green and as a contributor to the process," said Rob Morris, vice president and principal for Cassidy & Turley, a data center real estate industry expert that is involved with the project. Other partners in the project include Critical Project Services and Cushman & Wakefield.

There were two other big reasons that this site was chosen, according to Morris: Its ready access to broadband fibre connectivity and an easement that ensures plenty of gray water is available on the site for cooling and landscaping purposes.

Brandon McDaniel, a manager with Critical Project Services, said the data center initially will be able to accommodate 30 organizations that require 10,000 square feet of data center space, although the data center can be configured for smaller footprints.

Because WindData is closely affiliated with Baronyx, it can offer competitive power pricing, at up to 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to some of the information that I have seen published about the project.

(Image courtesy of Baronyx)

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