Digital Realty has provisioned renewable energy to support its growing data center footprint in Northern Virginia, the company said today. It’s the latest in a series of recent moves to secure the company’s competitive position in strategic markets around the globe.
The data center developer has lined up a power purchase agreement (PPA) to source solar power for a portion of its Northern Virginia portfolio. The agreement with ENGIE North America will supply Digital Realty’s Northern Virginia data centers with 107,000 additional megawatt-hours of renewable solar power annually. The 50-megawatt project will bring the company’s total new wind and solar power under contract to 338 megawatts and is expected to come online in late 2020.
Northern Virginia is the world’s largest data center market, and the focal point for the growth of cloud computing platforms. It’s also a market where the largest customers are committed to sustainable operations, and look to provision renewable energy to support the energy consumed by the servers in their data centers.
Digital Realty has also taken steps in recent weeks to secure long-term growth in London and Tokyo, two major global financial centers where data center expansions are complicated by the limited supply of real estate.
- Last month Digital Realty opened Cloud House, the latest facility in its Digital Docklands campus of data centers in London’s highly-connected Docklands area. Cloud House is a 120,000 square foot facility featuring 40,000 SF of data center capacity spread over four data halls.
- Last week MC Digital Realty, a joint venture with Mitsubishi, unveiled plans to acquire land in Tokyo’s Inzai data center cluster, expanding on an existing property owned by the JV. The deal will allow Digital Realty to build an additional 38-megawatt data center at the site, bringing the total capacity of the Inzai campus to 120 megawatts.
The Primacy of Power
The PPA in Virginia is important because cloud customers are focused on the availability of renewable energy in the region. Dominion Virginia Power has been one of the most effective utilities in providing power capacity to support the growth of the data center industry, but features an energy mix with a low percentage of wind and solar power. Dominion is working to address the issue, recently announcing plans for solar farms and a large offshore wind power project to address future demand for renewables.
Power is the lifeblood of any data center, and that’s why data centers are becoming more important players in the U.S. markets for electricity. Digital Realty is using its scale and buying power to gain access to attractive rates and renewable capacity. Earlier this year Digital Realty procured 80 megawatts of solar power on behalf of Facebook. The renewable energy will offset Facebook’s use of energy to power its servers and storage equipment in Digital Realty data centers in Northern Virginia. The companies say the agreement is the first “back-to-back” utility-scale transaction in which a data center landlord uses a virtual power purchase agreement for a renewable energy supply dedicated to a customer.
Digital Realty is the largest landlord in the data center cluster in Northern Virginia, and continues to expand. It is adding capacity at its huge Digital Loudoun campus, and has acquired large properties near Dulles Airport in Loudoun County and in Manassas in Prince William County to extend its runway for growth in this strategic market.
The company has also been able to procure discounts from utilities by combining the power purchases for multiple data center campuses, consolidate its energy purchasing for its existing campuses in suburban Chicago.
Digital Realty said Wednesday that it has also signed a green tariff agreement with Portland General Electric (PGE) to supply approximately 120,000 megawatt-hours annually to Digital Realty’s data center development project in Hillsboro, Oregon. The deal taps the utility’s recently launched Green Future Impact program, with PGE sourcing new solar or wind generation in Oregon under long-term contracts on behalf of Digital Realty and other enrolled customers. The agreements will add 227,000 megawatt-hours of new clean energy to the regional electric grids where Digital Realty operates, enough electricity to meet the needs of 27,900 homes for a year.
“We are pleased to be able to help our customers meet their renewable energy goals by bringing additional renewables to Virginia and supporting an innovative new renewable energy tariff offered by PGE in Oregon,” said Digital Realty Chief Executive Officer William Stein.
“We place a high priority on sourcing net-new renewable energy as we expand our portfolio, and each market has its own unique pathway to identifying and realizing impactful and cost-effective renewable solutions,” added Digital Realty Senior Director of Sustainability Aaron Binkley.