CenturyLink's new data center runs on water

Hydroelectric power is more reliable than wind or solar, which are dependent on weather

CenturyLink opens hydroelectric powered data center

Communications and data services provider CenturyLink has opened a new data center that gets 85% of its power from nearby dams.

The three-story 50,000-square-foot data center, located in Moses Lake, Wash., will ultimately support up to 30 megawatts (mW) of electrical load on the site, with an initial ramp of 8mW of hydroelectric power.

The facility, which is owned by Server Farm Realty and leased to CenturyLink, is powered by the Wanapum Dam and Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River.

The new facility will be used to support cloud and disaster recovery services, which CenturyLink said is bolstered by a more reliable renewable energy source than wind or solar, which are dependent of daylight or weather conditions.

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The hydroelectric powered powerplant on CenturyLink's new data center.

"CenturyLink's new low-cost power data center services provide many benefits to our customers, including a highly resilient solution coupled with power costs and efficiency metrics that rank among the best in the industry, and the facility serves as an excellent disaster recovery location," David Meredith, senior vice president of CenturyLink, said in a statement.

The central Washington climate also allows significant use of free-air cooling, driving even lower power use, according to the company.

CenturyLink operates 55 data centers in North America, Europe and Asia.

"The central part of Washington state is one of the geographies in which I see substantial potential for further growth as a data center hub," said Kelly Quinn, a research manager with IDC. "Its potential stems from the area's abundance of natural, power-generating resources, and its relative immunity from natural disasters."

CenturyLink also recently announced its first deployment of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) from Bloom Energy to power a multi-tenant data center in southern California.

Solid oxide fuel cells work by coating an electrolyte with special inks that act as an anode on one side and a cathode on the other. An electrochemical reaction using air and natural gas then passes through the electrolyte releasing energy.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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