Data Center

Brocade's Data Center Solar-Power Project Then and Now...

by ‎04-18-2014 03:23 PM - edited ‎04-22-2014 09:02 AM (7,669 Views)

Walking to and from the Brocade Headquarters parking garage, there are two information placards mounted to a wall by the elevator.  Sometimes I catch people glancing at them, but never more then that (myself included).  One day I decided to actually take the time to read them both.  One had the highlights from the Solar Panels that reside on top of the garage (*below is a picture of it).  After looking it over, I thought to look into the original project (for my own curiosity) and found it quite interesting.  Enough so that I wanted to share what I learned...



*Info placard located on the Brocade 1st floor parking garage


Prior to this write up, I must admit, i didn't know much about solar-power (or much of the common terms that go along with it).  But have always been fascinated by the concept.  I thought why not do some digging and write about some of the highlights I've learned along the way.  For example, I've learned what "Photovoltaics" (PV) is (basically its the core function of solar-panels and how they convert solar radiation to electricity and yes just recently learned that), what LEED stands for (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and why its such a big deal (Brocade is certified LEED Gold).


I think to paint a good picture of what Brocade has achieved, I should begin with a major project going on about 1.5 miles away on 4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way... the construction of Levi's Stadium and home of the 49ers.  Located on top of the West Wing Suite Tower, 49 solar-frames with 544 SunPower E20 Series solar panels (*seen below) were installed covering 9,574-square-feet.  This will provide an estimated combined peak capacity of about 375 kW and will offset the power consumption during the regular season.


 Levi's Stadium Crane Lift-45.jpg

*SunPower E20 Solar Panels at Levi's Stadium


Now, having described what resides at Levi's Stadium (keeping in mind, the goal at the stadium is to be 'energy-neutral' and they are well on their way), we have something to compare to the Brocade implementation.  The Brocade campus utilizes a 550 KW photovoltaic (PV) system attached to our garage structure (*pictured below) that harnesses the suns energy to offset the campuses power consumption and carbon footprint.  The power from the PV system is fed into building 02. This system is capable of offsetting the total amount of power consumed by our Data Center. 


solar panels2.png

 *31,000 sq-ft solar-panels on the Brocade parking garage


"The Brocade data center project is the single largest “Data Center Project” incentive ever awarded by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).  It is the third-largest incentive PG&E has ever issued".  So this statement was made in 2011 regarding the $2.1 million incentive received and I suspect, there may have been some larger incentives given out by PG&E recently, but at the time of this writing, I was unable to confirm.  I do however plan to provide an update if and when i do.  Now I was able to confirm and am happy to report these points still remain true...


  • The SunPower 305 Solar Panels have a conversion efficiency of 18.7%
  • Produces 770,000 kWh (enough to power 60 homes)
  • Saves 30 tons of CO2 emissions in the summer
  • Save $100,000.00 per year in electricity costs

Now moving on to the rest of the world, between 2011 and 2012, there was a 19% increase (globally) in power consumption by data centers.  Most would find this a bit alarming given the fact that data centers are already at the top of the list for most energy consumed.  Fortunately, with the growing trend of consolidation, energy efficient hardware and renewable energy initiatives, the 19% increase dropped to 7% in 2013.  Now with many of the major players such as Apple and Google (more info below on them under related articles and press releases) taking major strides towards efficiency and renewable energies, one can hope this will set the tone for other companies who have yet to consider these as viable options.  This would be another step to minimizing the impact we have on the planet.


Related Articles & Press Releases: