DENVER, COLO., July 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As the July 12 DatacenterDynamics Conference approaches, Harrison Resource Corporation President Craig Harrison and CH2M HILL report growing interest in a new economic model for low-cost data center development combined with energy security and efficiency. He expects the model to be a lively topic of conversation at the Conference being held at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, California.
The model, which Harrison describes as being "of revolutionary proportions for data center owners seeking to reduce initial construction costs as well as long-term operating costs," is experiencing its first implementation at Harrison's 662-acre Niobrara Energy Park in Weld County, Colorado.
The immense cost savings are largely attributable to Harrison's recent addition of 20 new acres to the 644-acre park that delivers direct access to three natural gas lines with a capacity of 1.5 million cubic feet per day. The presence of so much gas flowing through three independent lines provides "triple redundancy" power assurance in the park, a critical requirement for data center development.
Coincidental with this acquisition, Harrison Resource has started discussions to secure 15-year uninterruptible contracts that would fix natural gas prices for the park at rates that Harrison says would assure Niobrara of long-term access to "the cheapest natural gas power in America."
That abundant, redundant and secure power surplus allows data center developers to avoid the typical requirement of backup diesel generators at a cost of approximately $1 million per megawatt. This also eliminates the cost and environmental concern of having to permanently store diesel fuel adjacent to the data center as well as obtain environmental permits for the diesel generators.
Harrison has planned to reveal complete details of the new model at an August 6 data center event in Seattle. Sponsored by InformationWeek and Siemens, the August event is themed "Empowering the Data Center – Efficiency, Energy-Saving, and Green IT."
However, Harrison explained that the high level of interest in this innovative concept has prompted him to release some early background about the concept to address the early interest it is generating. In particular, he noted that as the DatacenterDynamics event approaches, he wants to be prepared to respond to the growing number of inquiries he's been receiving from different sectors of the data center industry ranging from enterprises to investors to utilities.
"Most technology parks have to figure out how to take gas to their park," said Harrison. "We've found a way to take our park to the gas. And Weld County, Colorado has one of the biggest oil and gas booms in the country…the Niobrara."
Harrison notes that the addition of new gas supplies at Niobrara adds to the park's other cost advantages including:
- The site's favorable combination of low heat and low humidity, which could allow reliance on outside air for "free cooling" approximately 94% of the time instead of the traditional approach of using chillers for cooling.
- Colorado's new House Bill 1029 which allows 10-year, 100% abatement on business personal property taxes by the county and special districts.
- No county or municipal sales or use tax
- Anticipated reduction of tax rates in Weld County resulting from an expected $25 billion investment in the county over the next five years by oil and gas interests.
- On-site underground water.
- On-site solar energy for possible direct DC energy, eliminating the need to convert to AC.
Harrison points out that these new developments at Niobrara come at a time when data center leaders are embracing development models involving natural gas and renewable energy. Microsoft is tapping into methane from a sewage treatment plant to power its nearby Cheyenne data center, and Apple has announced plans to build another solar farm near a data center in Reno, Nevada, adding to the two solar farms it has constructed next to its data center in North Carolina. Google's spending on renewable energy has surpassed that of even large energy companies – five times Exxon Mobil Corp.'s investment, for example.
In his keynote address at the AFCOM Data Center World Spring 2013 conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft Utility Architect for Data Center Advanced Development Brian Janous discussed the idea of relying on natural gas to power data centers, commenting "it all comes back to reliability. The reason we are looking at gas as a possibility is because it is generally more reliable. I don't ever remember experiencing going and turning my stove on and gas not coming out. It's always there."
According to Pike Research, Niobrara is the largest proposed Microgrid in the world. The site's zoning allows a natural gas plant with up to 200-megawatt capacity, 50 megawatts of utility-scale solar, 50 megawatts of fuel cells, and a smart grid substation without size limits. The site also features an ample on-site water supply and triple 230-kilovolt transmission lines offering redundant electrical transmission with 100 megawatts of excess capacity. The complete Niobrara "Vision Book" prepared by CH2M HILL's IDC Architects will be presented at the August 6 InformationWeek conference at the Bell Harbour Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.
For inquiries about Niobrara's economic model for low-cost data center development, contact Craig Harrison at Craig@harrisonresource.com, (970) 612-4100 or Jeff Cross at Jeff.Cross@ch2m.com, (503) 736-4054.