The Mineral Gap Data Center presented a number of possibilities – along with a number of challenges – all at once. The result of two realities: the fast-growing data center boom being seen nation-wide and the move in rural communities throughout Southwest Virginia towards a clean energy economy. As proof of Sun Tribe Solar’s continued commitment to innovation, this project also represented a new frontier: the first abandoned mine land project to be converted to solar anywhere in Virginia.
“There is no more poignant example of our society’s transition from the energy sources of the past to a brighter, cleaner energy future than converting a former coal site to a place where solar energy will power essential digital technology.“
First in Virginia
Mineral Gap Data Center is the first abandoned mine land solar project in Virginia history.
Capacity of Sun Tribe Solar's system that will be used to power the data center.
65,000 Square Feet
Size of the Mineral Gap Data Center - the flagship DP Facilities building in Wise County, Virginia
Wise County, Virginia has a proud history as a center for energy production an innovation. So when DP Facilities decided to build a 21st century data center powered by a solar array, the community was ready to support the opportunity for new jobs supported by clean energy. Sun Tribe collaborated closely with the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, Appalachian Voices, the Wise County Economic Development Office, and other regional stakeholders to create a new innovation: the first solar project in Virginia’s history to be built on Abandoned Mine Land.
Recognizing the importance of clean energy to the region’s economic development, Mineral Gap Data Center was the recipient of Federal and State support through the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy. Even more important than short-term grants, though, is the long-range economic impact: this solar system will inject approximately $1.2 million into the local economy over the life of the project.
In addition to reducing energy costs for the data center, Sun Tribe’s on-site solar array will give DP Facilities team members an opportunity, every day, to see how solar is providing the energy needed to support the critical operations of the data center.
And yet the benefits will expand beyond the site itself — in addition to construction and maintenance jobs created through the project, the solar array at Mineral Gap Data Center will serve as a launch pad for the development of a cleaner regional economy. Sun Tribe will be working closely with local organizations like Mountain Empire Community College to support skill building and training programs for students.
The impact of the Mineral Gap Data Center solar project has been recognized far beyond Wise County. Sun Tribe’s collaboration with DP Facilities was covered nationally and regionally in Bloomberg, Energy News Network, Solar Industry Magazine, RadioIQ, and a number of other leading outlets.
PBS and VPM also recently featured the project as part of its Creating Common Wealth series (produced by Silverthorn Films) which focuses on how leaders throughout Virginia are spurring economic development through innovation and “follows the extraordinary stories of these change-makers as they revitalize their communities and draw out the blueprint for a prosperous and unified future of all of their neighbors.” See the video below:
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