South African data center is cooled by the sun

Creative use of solar power to run chillers

15 July 2014 by Nick Booth -  -

South African data center is cooled by the sun
MTN is using the sun for both data center power and cooling

The sun can now be used to chill data centers as well as power them, following the launch of what is said to be the world’s first solar cooled data center, which has launched in South Africa.

Mobile operator MTN has unveiled a system that uses 242 solar mirrors to run its data processing facility in its Johannesburg head office.

The farm of solar mirrors occupies 484 sq m. Collectively they heat pressurized hot water to 180 degrees Celcius.

Heat exchange systems convert this energy, which is then used to power an absorption chiller.

The cold water created by the chiller is then pumped down the cold aisles of its data halls and used to regulate the temperature of air running into the inlet of each server.

The chillers were made by Johannesburg-based Voltas Technologies, which specializes in non-electric chillers and heat exchange systems.

The system was installed as a joint project by Industrial Solar, Voltas Technologies and Luft Technik.

It was based on a bespoke design by South Africa based Reach Renewable and AOS Consulting Engineers.

In hot countries there is a great opportunity for manufacturers to harness the energy from a natural high temperature heat source and use it to power a variety of processes in local data centers, according to Voltas Technologies’ MD Cristian Cernat.

“This creates a real opportunity for local manufacturing and future job creation in the field of renewable energy equipment production in our country," Cernat said.

In 2010, MTN's head office became the first silver-certified building in South Africa under the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Global warming is having an effect on emerging markets like South Africa, MTN South Africa CEO Zunaid Bulbulia said.

“We continuously explore ways in which we can not only reduce our carbon footprint but also substantially reduce our electricity consumption, which will release additional capacity for the national grid," Bulbulia said.



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