Here's comes a clean cloud

Clean power is on its way for data centers as a service, too

Using clean energy to power data centers is becoming increasingly commonplace, and it’s not just the huge Internet companies like Apple, Google and Facebook that are doing this with their own infrastructure. Colocation centers, which provide data center space as a service, are beginning to offer clean energy options, too.

On Thursday Phoenix, Arizona-based data center service provider IO announced that customers purchasing data center space in the company’s Arizona facility can buy 100 percent clean energy, at an incremental cost increase, through a new deal with Arizona utility Arizona Public Service. IO’s President Anthony Wanger said that the new offering came as a result of “a clear call by our customers to use cost-effective clean energy to power their data centers.”

Apple's solar farm next to its data center in Maiden, North Carolina, image courtesy of Katie Fehrenbacher Gigaom
Apple’s solar farm next to its data center in Maiden, North Carolina, image courtesy of Katie Fehrenbacher Gigaom

Arizona, like Nevada and California, is a strong solar state, and it has a mandate to deliver 15 percent of its electricity from clean energy by 2025. APS has contracted to buy all of the 280 MW of solar energy from the Solana solar thermal plant 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. That could provide enough solar electricity for 70,000 average homes. APS is also interested in owning solar roofs in its territory, but has acted rather controversially in the past when it comes to the residential solar panel industry.

As clean energy options get cheaper — starting with large utility solar farms, and wind farms — more companies that offer colocation and cloud services will be able to afford to offer clean energy options to customers. While [company]Amazon[/company] has been one of the quietest on this front, it has more recently committed to 100 percent clean energy, starting with using wind to power a data center in Indiana. Wind is the cheapest clean energy option but is only available at scale in certain areas of the U.S.

Recently IO decided to split itself into two companies, one with the name IO that will continue to sell data center services, and the other called Baselayer that will sell data center container solutions. The move is meant to provide more runway as the company works toward an exit, after it filed a planned IPO and let it languish a year later.