Turbine to provide twice OWC's electricity needs, making them the first 100% on-site wind-powered tech manufacturer in the U.S.
One of the biggest problems with any type of electricity transmission is "line loss", or dissipated heat energy. But an even bigger problem for some electricity users, particularly those that rely on an uninterrupted power supply, is an outage on the local grid.
Illinois-based Other World Computing (OWC), a leading supplier and manufacturer of computer components and system upgrades, has found a solution to this problem with the installation of its new new 500 kW wind turbine at the company's LEED Platinum designed facility and internet operations datacenter in Woodstock, Illinois. The Vestas V-93 turbine will allow the company to power 100% of its manufacturing, distribution and hosting operations, and still have enough leftover to sell the surplus energy back to the local utility.
Named one of Computerworld's top 12 green-IT vendors in 2008, Other World Computing not only provides sales, support and manufacturing functions, they also provide web-hosting via their ISP division. Company officials say the wind power completely covers their datacenter energy requirements and that the added layers of redundancy will make for uninterrupted business operations and reliable web-hosting.
Facility's electrical systems enjoy quadruple-redundancy
- The new OWC wind turbine is projected to generate an estimated 1,250,000 kilowatt hours per year, roughly twice the facility's current needs. The remainder will be sold back to the local grid at a relatively low tariff, but with rising prices of electricity in the Chicago area, company officials that rate to increase.
“With the kilowatt hour rate in the Chicago market up 24.3% since 1999, it only makes sense to use technology to lower our usage and costs related to traditional power sources," said Larry O’Connor, CEO, Other World Computing.
I followed up with OWC to see how much they were earning for the electricity they put on the grid. As it turns out, they will be selling their electricity for considerably less than local retail rates, making it a good value proposition for both the local power utility and the community alike. "The buy-back is currently a very low average of less than $.04 kWh," OWC officials wrote in an email to Earth & Industry.
When wind speeds dwindle and there isn't an adequate amount of power being generated, power flows back from the grid to the facility. But if there is no wind and also a power outage, OWC also has natural gas generation and an extensive battery backup system providing 4-way power redundancy for the company's computer support service.
"So bottom line," company officials said via email, "all our operations are designed to run without interruption...so we can deliver on our mission to serve the customer.”
Certainly not every company has the resources (financial or climatic) to install on-site wind energy generators. But with unpredictability built-in to the electric grid, more and more datacenters will be looking at generating on-site energy via wind, solar and even tidal power to provide a reliable and consistent power supply to keep their servers up and running — and their customers happy.
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