Data center using innovative technology to track renewable energy hour by hour

Data Center. Credit: Iron Mountain

There’s a movement underway whereby companies that want to power their operations with clean energy would like to go further than simply purchasing the output of a renewable energy power plant via a power purchase agreement (PPA). They are instead interested in ensuring that all the energy they actually use is matched with the renewable energy output of a power plant.

To that end, Iron Mountain Incorporated this week said that it has taken a significant step forward in doing this type of energy matching by using what it says are readily available retail channels. The data center company has entered into an agreement with RPD Energy and Direct Energy to track the hourly renewable energy load of Iron Mountain data centers.

The innovative structure will source 100% renewable energy aimed at matching the hourly usage of all Iron Mountain facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (over 60 buildings), including two data centers. Conventional renewable power solutions seek to only match a buyer’s load on an annual or monthly basis without ensuring renewable power is available when clients are using electricity. Tracking hourly usage from the generator and comparing it to Iron Mountain’s hourly usage demonstrates a future view of how firms could transition to truly carbon free energy supply.

“Iron Mountain is seeking to move beyond the conventional approach of matching renewable power on an annual basis, to matching renewable power generation with its hourly energy use. This is ultimately the path needed to decarbonize energy use,” stated Chris Pennington, Global Energy Manager at Iron Mountain Data Centers.

“We are proud to push the marketplace and be at the forefront of embracing and adopting this unique approach and believe that RPD and Direct Energy have assembled a highly repeatable product that will become a readily available retail product.”

“It is so gratifying to witness the power of collaboration and we hope transactions like these can demonstrate that the market is capable of greater flexibility to meet increasingly aggressive demands for truly 24/7 renewable power,” said Eric Alam, CEO of RPD Energy. “RPD Energy’s role was to identify the right committed generator and retail supplier to ensure that Iron Mountain could achieve a truly unique outcome,” he said.

Alam added that his team collaborated with Axpo U.S. “to design a wholesale transaction that worked for EDP Renewables North America.” He said that Direct Energy created the retail product that fit Iron Mountain’s needs.

RPD Energy in conjunction with Direct Energy, will provide Iron Mountain a monthly report to document the match of average hourly generation and Iron Mountain’s actual hourly offtake from the grid. To maintain the integrity of the renewable impact of the transaction, traceability and environmental claims are ensured by renewable energy credits provided via EDP Renewables North America and sourced from the same renewable developer.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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