NREL's ESIF Data Center
In the fall of 2012, NREL completed construction of the new Energy System Integration Facility (ESIF), providing laboratory and office space for approximately 200 NREL researchers staff. The focus of this new 182,500 s.f. facility is research to overcome challenges related to the interconnection of distributed energy systems and the integration of renewable energy technologies into the electricity grid. Following NREL's tradition of "walking the talk," the ESIF demonstrates NREL’s commitment to a sustainable energy future with its energy-saving workplace environment. This showcase facility not only helps meet the nation’s crucial research objectives for integrating clean and sustainable energy technologies into the grid, but was built in accordance with the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification standards.
The state-of-the-art, high performance computing (HPC) data center in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) features computational modeling and predictive simulation capabilities to support the breadth of NREL research. The intent for the data center is to increase efficiency and lower costs for important technologies that include solar photovoltaics, wind energy, energy storage, electric vehicles, and the large-scale integration of renewables with the smart grid.
Energy Efficient Supercomputing
In addition to its significant high performance computing capabilities, the data center is designed to be one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world. Using best-in-class technologies, the data center serves as a showcase facility for demonstrating data center energy efficiency.
The data center is designed to achieve an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06 or better. Going beyond traditional PUE measurements (if such a thing can be said of PUE), the NREL HPC Data Center is using warm-water liquid cooling for its high-power computer components, then capturing and reusing that waste heat as the primary heat source in the ESIF offices and laboratory space, and to condition ventilation make up air. These technologies substantially reduce the amount of energy used by the entire building, saving energy and money in new and effective ways.
There are no mechanical or compressor-based cooling systems in the environment. Cooling liquid is supplied indirectly from cooling towers--thus the ambient temperature is warmer than typical data centers. In addition to the highly efficient heat and energy management infrastructure, the ESIF data center has approximately 10,000 s.f. of uninterrupted, usable machine room space. Subtracting present and planned systems, over 7,000 s.f. of space is still available to be leveraged for future computing resources.