The solar PV array takes up almost 3000 sq m of roof space.

7 January 2014 — A data centre in Melbourne has been fitted with one of the largest privately funded solar arrays in Australia, allowing customers to choose 100 per cent renewable energy for their servers, a first for Australian data centres.

The NEXTDC data centre in Port Melbourne features a $1.2 million, 401-kilowatt solar array installed by solar company Energy Matters, and takes up almost 3000 square metres of roof space. It is expected to generate around 550 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, offsetting 670 tonnes of CO2 a year.

“This is a very exciting innovation for both the data centre industry and enterprises looking to take the lead on energy efficiency, not only by hosting in world-class, energy efficient facilities, but also by purchasing their electricity from a 100 per cent renewable source,” said NEXTDC chief executive Craig Scroggie.

While the solar system is quite large, it will only generate around five per cent of the data centre’s energy use, so not all customers can take advantage of a 100 per cent renewable option. Chief operating officer Simon Cooper said the installation would also tackle peak demand, however, and have a marketing benefit for comapnies.

“The electricity generated by our solar power system is clean and sustainable – factors that benefit us, our customers and their customers too,” Mr Cooper said.

Energy Matters co-founder Nick Brass said the installation was a landmark for the data centre industry.

“NEXTDC has not only taken a leadership role by being the first data centre in Australia to make such a meaningful commitment, its foresight means it has effectively locked-in a sizeable portion of its energy bills for the next 25 years and beyond,” Mr Brass said.

NEXTDC has plans for solar arrays in Sydney and Perth data centres.