I strongly oppose allowing data centers located in Loudoun to burn diesel fuel to run their operations during peak periods. While I understand the need for data centers to have access to reliable electricity, I believe burning diesel is particularly harmful and there are other sustainable options that should be pursued (and which most large Tech companies using the data centers claim to promote!).
According to an article in Loudoun Now, the state estimates there are 4,151 such generators at data centers in Loudoun. Based on the state’s estimates those generators collectively put out 51 tons of carbon monoxide, and almost 93 tons of non-methane hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides PER HOUR of runtime! These are known to be potent and poisonous greenhouse gasses, and contribute to numerous health problems, including respiratory illnesses, asthma, worsening of heart and lung disease, and pose the highest cancer risk of any toxic air contaminant. In addition to being Data Center Alley, Loudoun is also home to many families with young children and others who would be tragically impacted by this “lazy” approach to supporting peak energy demand.
I believe a much better, zero impact solution would be to install solar panels on the roofs of the data centers. According to estimates, there is currently 45 million sq. ft. of data center space in Northern Virginia, nearly 90% of which is in Loudoun county. By installing solar over much of that space, combined with battery storage to provide spare capacity, I am confident the Data Centers would be able to easily meet peak demand spikes.
I am really disappointed the county and state did not make this a requirement in the initial building of the data centers, when it most certainly would have been cheapest to do so. However, for the health of our children and the general qualify of life for Loudoun residents, this should now be a requirement for all existing and new data centers.