Data centers are facilities that primarily contain electronic equipment used for data processing, data storage, and communications networking. Regardless of their use and configuration, most data centers are more energy intensive than other buildings. The continuous operation of Information Technology equipment and power delivery systems generates a significant amount of heat that must be removed from the data center for the electronic equipment to operate properly. Since data centers spend up to half their energy on cooling, cooling systems becomes a key factor for energy consumption reduction strategies and alternatives in data centers. This paper presents a theoretical analysis of an absorption chiller driven by solar thermal energy as cooling plant alternative for data centers. Source primary energy consumption is used to compare the performance of different solar cooling plants with a standard cooling plant. The solar cooling plants correspond to different combinations of solar collector arrays and thermal storage tank, with a boiler as source of energy to ensure continuous operation of the absorption chiller. The standard cooling plant uses an electric chiller. Results suggest that the solar cooling plant with flat-plate solar collectors is a better option over the solar cooling plant with evacuated-tube solar collectors. However, although solar cooling plants can decrease the primary energy consumption when compared with the standard cooling plant, the net present value of the cost to install and operate the solar cooling plants are higher than the one for the standard cooling plant.

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