Massachusetts Researchers Launch Solar-Power Data Centre

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15 megawatt ‘micro’ data centre opened by US green computing scientists to research renewable future

Researchers in Massachusetts have launched an experimental data centre that uses energy from the Sun to power its cooling systems.

The 200-square-foot, 15 megawatt ‘micro’ data centre is part of a project from the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), and uses solar power to run its cooling systems as well as batteries and flywheels to store energy.


The Mass Net Zero Data Centre (MassNZ), which is also part-researched by the MGHPCC’s member universities and the City of Holyoke, will generate power, cooling and workload data that will be used by researchers to investigate data centre integration with a smart electric grid; a machine learning-based, data-driven modeling of sustainable data centres.

data centre
The 200-square-foot MassNZ micro data center is located adjacent to the MGHPCC – Photo credit Helen Hill

The MassNZ and MGHPCC facilities will work in collaboration with Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG&E), the municipally-owned utility that serves the City of Holyoke.

The principal investigators for MassNZ are Christopher Hill, Principal Research Engineer and Director of Research Computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Professor Prashant Shenoy of the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences.

“There are three major obstacles to research in sustainable data centre design: availability of experimental infrastructure to enable realistic prototyping and evaluation, availability of realistic use cases from a state-of-the-art green data centre, and real-time visibility into the utility infrastructure that provides data center power,” said Hill. “The MassNZ addresses all three.”

“Despite numerous advances in data centre design, many challenges remain unaddressed,” said Shenoy.  “How should a data centre incorporate renewable sources of energy? How should future data centres interface with a smart electric grid to intelligently reduce their electricity bills? How should we design green HPC applications that intelligently manage power use?”

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