LUBBOCK, Texas – On a remote road in Briscoe County, if you blink, you might miss it.
The name of the operation? Project Dorothy.
“It is a 50 mega-watt data center, and it is connected to a wind farm that produces a lot of energy, but the grid doesn’t always need that energy,” said Karl Shinn, Texas Regional Site Lead for Soluna Computing. “When those turbines are shut off, it’s called curtailment, which is wasted energy.”
When West Texas wind farm owners were not selling all the power they had produced because the ERCOT grid was overloaded and demand was low, Soluna Computing purchased the excess energy, so those wind farm owners could still make a profit and earn federal tax credits.
So, what does Soluna do with that excess energy?
Inside the 44 buildings on the project site, thousands of computers will be powered by the energy produced by the nearby wind farms.
“It’s used for intensive computing, blockchain, batch-able computing like artificial intelligence, and sustaining the bitcoin network,” said Shinn.
Shinn told us Soluna hopes to have the site fully operating later this year.
So, why is it called ‘Project Dorothy’?
Soluna told us they have chosen to name all of its new data centers after women who’ve made huge impacts on the field of science.
“Dorothy Vaughan in particular was a human computer who worked for NACA, the predecessor to NASA,” said Shinn. “She led teams of human computer females and that would contribute to the satellite program in order to send scout satellites into orbit.”
Vaughan is considered one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures” along with Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, three black women, whose work behind-the-scenes for the space program, went unnoticed for decades. Actress Octavia Spencer portrayed Vaughan in the 2016 acclaimed film Hidden Figures.
While Vaughan had no personal connection to West Texas, Soluna hopes the innovative project would make her proud with plans to expand the Briscoe County operation.
“We’re prepared to ramp it up to 100 mega-watts,” said Shinn.