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Project Partners Break Ground on $3 Billion, 340-MW Off-Grid Solar Data Center in Arizona

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Andrew Burger's picture
Man Friday Energy Ventures

I've worked a pretty diverse range of jobs around the world over the years. I feel fortunate to have found vital, satisfying work, and a career reporting, editing and researching developments in...

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  • Aug 9, 2019 12:03 pm GMT

A 340-MW solar power facility is being built to power a $3 billion renewable energy data center in Golden Valley Arizona.

Dubbed "The Hive," Pegasus Group Holdings and wholly owned subsidiary Plus Minus Power are building the solar power facility on 717 acres of land south of Kingman, Arizona on Interstate 40 that has just been cleared for construction, according to a local news report.

Project partners Pegasus Group Holdings and Plus Minus Power aim to bring all 340 MW online by the end of this year, Pegasus Group chairman Jay Bloom told those attending a groundbreaking ceremony. Pegasus Group acquired Plus Minus Power this July for an undisclosed sum specifically to see the Hive project through to fruition.

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"Moving at the speed of business"

It's no surprise that data centers consume lots of energy, or that the proportion of electricity they consume has been rising fast as data center operators and services providers seek to connect every organization and human being on the planet with multiple connections to the "cloud." So does the potential to add to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution if that electricity is sourced from fossil-fuel power plants.

“When you talk about moving at the speed of business, we are setting land speed records in doing so. Having 340 megawatts represents 165 metric tons of carbon that are coming out of the air. We are going to be running 165,000 servers approximate," Bloom was quoted. "Those servers consume a lot of electricity. That electricity would otherwise be coming from coal, oil or natural gas, well now it’s coming from natural sunlight. It’s significant and it’s right here in the heart of Mohave County.”

Data center energy demand also poses challenges for grid operators. “It’s also only becoming a bigger burden on the grid,” Briggs pointed out. “What we are doing is that we are taking going off-grid by becoming self-sustainable, which means that we’re no longer adding to the rolling blackout issues. We’re looking to take what we do here, grow it throughout this region, scale it as we continue to grow solar and tenants choosing to co-locate with us, and then take it global.

Attracting renewable energy, data center investment

It's fair to say that states across the US are keen to attract data center operators and investment, and that leading data center companies have been keen to make use of renewable energy, in cases pushing utilities, legislators and regulators to make it possible for them to do so.

The economics of a $1 billion data center project at the site of a former Stanley Black & Decker manufacturing plant in New Britain, Connecticut got a substantial boost recently when state venture capital arm Connecticut Ventures granted the developer, EIP Investments, a $55.2 million sales and use tax exemption. The Data and Innovation Center is to be powered at least in part by a 20-MW, fuel-cell microgrid spanning 45,000 square feet of space, which would make it the largest such indoor system in the world, according to project partners.

Arizona state senator Regina Cobb pointed out that low taxes, cheap land and the ready availability of residents ready and able to work make Arizona an ideal location for data center and renewable energy projects such as The Hive.

"This is a community effort and every person who has been on this project has seen what we can do,” Briggs was quoted. “What we are trying to create is what is to become a backbone, renewable and scalable off-grid data storage.”

Pegasus Group recruited Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, to act as the company's global ambassador. “We are going to make a better planet just from what Mohave County has done by supporting the Pegasus Group Holdings,” Ferguson was quoted.

“It’s all about unity and, quite frankly, if we didn’t have Mohave County (and Sup.) Jean (Bishop) cracking the whip and the senators and everybody else then what are we all doing it for? It’s a blueprint today, it’s the state of Arizona opening up its entire place and saying that Mohave County is good. Because of The Hive. Because of what you’ve done. You are a blueprint for the rest of the world, that at last people are joining forces to make a difference so the rural areas of the world can have the right to power.”

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 12, 2019

I wonder what level of storage they're building up to go along with this

Brandon Olsen's picture
Brandon Olsen on Aug 12, 2019

I wonder how they are managing to squeeze 340MW onto 717 acres of land. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Aug 12, 2019

Brandon, 717 acres is 1.12 square miles. For comparison, Topaz in California needs 9 square miles to support 450 MW of solar. There might be a clue in Jay Bloom's explanation of this apparent discrepancy:

"What we are doing is that we are taking going off-grid by becoming self-sustainable, which means that we’re no longer adding to the rolling blackout issues. We’re looking to take what we do here, grow it throughout this region, scale it as we continue to grow solar and tenants choosing to co-locate with us, and then take it global."

Could he be lying?

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