The lights went out, but Cybera’s solar-powered computer centre stayed on

The Calgary node of Canada'€™s first '€œgreen'€ internet passed a major operational test last night as the building hosting it underwent a five-hour power outage. Despite being cut off from any electrical source, the computer centre continued to operate, running on energy collected from eight solar panels during the days leading up to the outage.

'€œThis test is a great example of the potential viability of operating a computer centre using solar energy,'€ says Jean-Francois Amiot, Cybera Technical Operations Manager. '€œCybera is pleased with how the node performed and we are proud to be contributing to the creation of sustainable, energy-smart infrastructure.'€

The node is part of the GreenStar Network (GSN) Project, an international initiative investigating technologies and protocols for '€œgreen'€ information and communication technology (ICT). The project, funded by CANARIE, connects five nodes across Canada that are powered by solar, hydro or wind energy. Each node consists of a small computer centre that is connected to the research network infrastructure by optical fibre.

Cybera'€™s node is located on the roof of the Alastair Ross Technology Centre (ARTC) in the University of Calgary'€™s Research Park. Last night'€™s outage was a scheduled event, to accommodate regular maintenance on the ARTC distribution system. Prior to the scheduled outage, Cybera installed an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) in the transmitter connected to the node within the ARTC, allowing data to be continuously transferred to the other GSN nodes across the country.

The four other GSN nodes are located in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, and are being operated by RackForce (hydro), the Communications Research Centre (solar), École de technologie supérieure (hydro) and BastionHost (wind).

The GSN Project aims to create a '€œfollow the sun, water or wind'€ system where a continuously-operating network seamlessly switches between renewable power sources, despite the long distances between them. As well as having nodes across Canada, the GSN Project has also begun to extend into the United States and overseas to Spain, Belgium, and Ireland.