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Salt River Project Case Study: Data Centers Could Consume 30% of US Power by 2030

 
Nov 13, 2017
by Josh Anderson

PHOENIX, AZ — The Salt River Project (SRP) data station is a scalable, modular, quickly deployable data center that can connect directly to the grid near an SRP sub-station. The design ensures that power is delivered economically and with an unparalleled reliability. Connecting to the transmission supply chain, SRP data station active power feeds will deliver dual wide and highly available service, while eliminating the need for costly data and power infrastructure. Typical infrastructure costs such as those associated with back up generators, batteries, and uninterruptable power supplies and power switches can be avoided. At our Southwest Data Center Summit in Phoenix on November 2, we heard from Clint Poole, the Commercial Telecom Business Unit Manager at SRP for an exciting case study on SRP’s aims and progress. Below is the second part in a transcription of that case study – stay tuned to CapRE’s Insider Reports for more.

Clint Poole, Commercial Telecom Business Unit Manager, Salt River Project

“This particular moment in time was somewhat instrumental in getting off of the ground,” recalled Poole, thinking back to the Spring of 2013. “Electric Power Research, as it normally does, performed a state of the industry for utilities. It’s a very long presentation but within that one presentation was one slide. It wasn’t missed by me. It had to do with data center power load growth.”

“It was an interesting way of looking at it, because when you think about the growth of the data center industry, I’ve never really seen it measured from a power load standpoint,” Poole pointed out. “Back then, at that point, data centers were consuming approximately 2% of the power used in the US. And considering the current rate of growth, that power consumption could be as much a 20% by 20030. That’s an astonishing number.”

“So it made my team ask a lot of questions,” he offered. “Really though, as you guys know, a lot of conversations about this stack – are data centers getting more efficient, etc. etc, and Lawrence Berkley Lab put out a recent white paper last year saying that data centers are getting so efficient that we’re seeing a flattening of the curve, and that is debated – but the point remains that data centers are growing at a rapid rate.”

“Imagining that future sate, and those potential challenges, and trying to solve them, really drove our interest,” Poole continued. “So number one, we support the growth of the data center industry, and not in the ways that you’d necessarily think we would. So data centers bring power and power is great for utilities, but we are a public power utility. Our mission is to support our community. Economic growth is a key part to our mission.  And one thing I’m instrumental in, is that there is a lot of confusion amongst economic development folks about the value of the data center.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard this played out,” he mused. “There was a time when employee per square foot we’re coming, and it was astonishing to some of our policy makers, like you know, what’s the deal? These buildings consume a lot of resources, but they don’t hire a whole lot of people.  And the conversation got kind of sour.”

“We spend a lot of time talking about the need for infrastructure. Infrastructure is a key enabler of economic development,” Poole concluded. “And digital infrastructure is key to the growth and foundation of the new economy. And having that here for our community is a necessity for us to enter the digital age. So that conversation was received well.  We spent a lot of time doing that, so supporting the growth and making sure we get to that 2030 projection is very important to us…”

Be sure to check out the first part of this transcription: Clint Poole on Salt River Project’s Play to Combine Real Estate, Connectivity and Infrastructure

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