Texas data centres keep the lights on amid Storm Uri
Severe winter storms are affecting millions across Texas and Oklahoma, with both states currently experiencing some of the most prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures in their history.
In Texas, 20 people have already died from the cold, and Storm Uri has wreaked havoc with the state’s utilities. Nearly half of the residents of Texas do not have access to clean running water, with severe rationing taking place across cities like Kyle, where officials stated that clean water should "only be used to sustain life at this point."
Widespread power outages have swept across the state in the past few days, with as many as 2mn people being left without power on Monday. Although service is slowly being restored over the week, hundreds of thousands are still in the dark.
On Wednesday, grid disruption in the city of Austin brought the city’s data centre offline, and other operators throughout the region have reported being affected.
Keeping the lights on
Many operators in this area, including hyperscaler Digital Realty - which recently relocated its global headquarters - Equinix and QTS, have managed to maintain their services during the past week, using backup generators to weather the storm.
On Wednesday, QTS President and CEO Chad Williams said that, “We’re keeping our people safe and keeping our customers engaged and getting through this together.”
Erich Sanchack, Executive Vice President for Operations at Digital Realty, , saying that “Despite the extremely challenging weather conditions in Texas, Digital Realty has maintained operations for our data centre customers in Dallas, Houston and Austin. We have successfully transferred some loads to onsite generator power, while maintaining 100% uptime for critical and essential digital services as per our designs. By running generators at select sites, we have also been able to help reduce the overall power load on the ERCOT grid system.”
Digital Realty’s own supplies of backup diesel fuel are so well stocked that the company has been distributing it to other operators in the state in order to help keep the lights on.
"We have provided support by redirecting fuel supplies to other customers in Texas who have data center capacity outside the Digital Realty portfolio of properties," added Sanchack, noting that, "From a community outreach perspective, Digital Realty has also offered up the use of one of our data centre spaces in Lewisville, TX to provide potential overflow facilities to the city for families who lack access to power and heat."
DEWA, Huawei to build Dubai’s largest green data centre
Moro Hub, a subsidiary of the digital arm of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), signed an agreement with Chinese tech giant Huawei over the weekend to build a new hyperscale data centre in the city. Taking advantage of an abundance of solar power available in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the new facility will be 100% powered by renewable electricity generated by photovoltaic infrastructure located within the Emirates.
With the potential to reach a capacity of 100 MW upon full buildout, the facility is set to become the largest solar-powered, Uptime Institute Tier III-certified green data centre in the Middle East and Africa.
The project is part of the Dubai 10x initiative launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and will support the Emirate’s goal of developing into “a city of the future, putting it 10 years ahead of other global cities,” according to Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of the DEWA.
The signing event, attended by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, and Mr Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East, and signed by Marwan Bin Haidar, Vice Chairman and Group CEO Digital DEWA and Mr Jerry Liu, CEO of Huawei UAE - Courtesy of DEWA
Al Tayer added that the project, “meets our ambition to deliver sustainable digital transformation and anticipate and shape the future,” and “supports the UAE Centennial 2071 to make the UAE the world's leading nation and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.”
The facility will, according to Al Tayer, also support Dubai’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions by 16% before the end of the year, as well as its goal of meeting 75% of the city’s power demands with clean energy by 2050, and “significantly aids DEWA’s progress towards sustainable development.”
Moro Hub already operates one green data centre in the Emirate, which came online in October of 2020. The facility was the first Tier-III green data centre to come online in the Middle East.
Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East, was also present at the signing ceremony held on Saturday. He commented that the new association between Huawei and the DEWA, “allows us to strengthen our partnership with Moro Hub and take part in fortifying the UAE's sustainable development goals.”