Data center giant Equinix taps SunEdison to solar power its Californian operations

Equinix, the largest data center service provider in the world, has signed a five-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with U.S. solar power company SunEdison for the provision of solar to power its Californian data centers.

The agreement is a de facto sourcing of solar power to five of the world’s leading web brands, given that Equinix hosts the data of "the top five web properties globally".

Equinix’s PPA stipulates that the server host will receive 105 MW of the 150 MW Mount Signal II solar farm that SunEdison is currently constructing in Imperial Valley, California. The completion date for this utility-scale solar project is late 2016, and connection will mean that Equinix has increased its renewable energy consumption from 30% currently to 43% by next year.

Equinix will be able to offset approximately 300,000 kWh or energy annually, which will cover the power needs of all of its California operators, which includes vast swathes of blue chip Silicon Valley companies. Equinix’s seven data centers in California run from Palo Alto to San Jose and, given the demands in meeting California’s clean energy thirst, the company confirmed it settled for a shorter, less attractive PPA than would have been possible in neighboring states.

"It was important to solve the puzzle in California, because California is so hard to solve," Equinix senior director David Rinard. The short-term PPA actually allows Equinix to identify a longer term solar option, and will also serve to help SunEdison get the Mount Signal II plant up and running sooner than normal.

"Equinix’s purpose is to power the digital economy and we believe that it is important to do this in an environmentally sustainable way," said Equinix Americas president Karl Strohmeyer. "This PPA is a major milestone in achieving our long-term goal of reaching 100% renewable power, and it solidifies Equinix’s position as a global data center leader in sustainability."

Equinix has also signed on to the World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which advocate ways to deliver easier access to, and increased grid use of, renewable energy sources, and has joined the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center (BRC) – a collaborative platform aimed at accelerated corporate renewable energy procurement.

Rocky Mountain Institute MD Herve Touati welcomed Equinix’s membership with the BRC, saying: "Equinix is ready to take steps to share some of its experience with other corporate buyers to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. The shared goal of our community is to add another 60 GW of wind and solar energy by 2030, and we need more companies like Equinix to blaze the trail."