The array is spread over more than 6,000 square-feet on the roof of IBM’s Software Lab in Bangalore. It can provide 50-kilowatts of electricity for an average of five hours a day up to 330 days a year, providing almost 20% of the data centre energy requirements.
Using high-voltage DC power conditioning, the system also reduces AC-DC conversion losses. IBM says that it can cut energy consumption of data centres by about 10%. The system is effectively tailoring solar technology for wider use in industrial IT and electronics installations.
High-voltage, DC computer servers and cooling systems are beginning to replace traditional AC-powered equipment in the data centre, but IBM maintains that it’s Bangalore array is the first to integrate solar-power, water-cooling and power-conditioning into a package suitable for massive configurations of electronic equipment. For a data centre, the solution can provide a compute power of 25 to 30 teraflops using an IBM Power Systems server on a 50kW solar power supply. IBM plans to make the new solar-power technology available to clients.
It looks an interesting proposition with wide application. As well as reducing data centre power requirements it also raises the prospect of setting up a data centre that doesn't need the grid.
It’s a more IT market-focussed approach than Google, which announced earlier in the month that it was entering the residential solar market. Google has joined up with a company in San Francisco to fund solar power system installations and charge the home owner a monthly fee. The monthly cost will be no more than what was originally paid to the utility.