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The data center is the first of five data centers the company plans to build and run entirely with renewable energy.

COURTESY IMAGE: QTS REALTY TRUST - A artist's rendering of QTS Realty Trust's five data center campus in Hillsboro.A new data center that opened in Hillsboro in May is the first of five massive data centers the company plans to build on its campus and run entirely on renewable energy, company officials say.

Kansas-based company QTS Realty Trust recently announced the opening of a 188,000 square-foot, 24-megawatt data center located along Northeast Brookwood Parkway near Highway 26.

The company's plans call for four more data centers to be built, with 250 megawatts in total.

Sean Baillie, executive vice president for connectivity strategy at QTS, says the company worked with its power provider, Portland General Electric, to ensure each building will be powered without the use of fossil fuels.

"This is the first building we've built where the day we commissioned that building, we were 100% renewable, and will remain so for as long as we're there, which is going to be an awfully long time," Baillie said.

QTS is a third-party data center provider, meaning the company allows businesses to purchase space within its data center and connect customers to the cloud, directly to other business partners or to networks around the world through internet fiber cables.

When construction on the company's five data centers is completed, they will offer 1 million square feet of leasable server space for other companies.

Favorable local tax rates have made Hillsboro a regional hub for data center construction during the last decade. Existing fiber and access to undersea cables have made it a strategic location for companies hoping to connect with customers around the world, particularly in Asian markets.

But data centers use a lot of energy. Historically, data centers have cooled electronics in an energy-efficient manner by using a substantial amount of on-site water. Alternatively, data centers use a refrigerant-based cooling process that requires no on-site water but a lot of electricity.

The cooling system used by QTS at its new data center will be the industry's first zero-water cooling solution powered by entirely by solar or wind energy, company officials say.

The QTS data center will join the so-called "Hillsboro Ring," a network of 14 data centers in the area.

"We are proud to welcome QTS to Hillsboro at a time when it's essential that we work to keep our economy moving forward," said Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway. "With QTS' ongoing investment, our entire region and state benefit from the creation of construction jobs, high-tech business opportunities and additional revenues for vital public services."

Data centers do not provide many on-site jobs. But the opening of the data center coincides with an increase in the need for businesses to have reliable internet connectivity as more people work away from centralized offices due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"For QTS, when (COVID-19) hit and everybody started working from home, we saw our bandwidth spikes across our buildings almost double," Baillie said. "We saw big, big spikes and a lot of upgrade orders from our customers that needed to have more bandwidth to serve all those people who were trying to interact with their services."

Baille said QTS doesn't currently have a timeline for when construction on the Hillsboro campus' four other data centers will begin, adding that the timing will largely depend on how quickly businesses choose to purchase server space in the first data center.


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