How energy in the data centre is changing
Tue 20 Mar 2018 | Russell Bulley
Russell Bulley, Technical Support Manager at Vertiv, discusses the future of energy in the data centre, and how advancements in UPS technology as well as broader renewable energy technology will affect the data centre space.
Data centre energy consumption is set to grow more than three times in the next 10 years. With rising energy costs and sustainability issues, it is vital for data centre owners and operators to optimise their energy consumption and take advantage of the opportunity to utilise renewable energy, and preserve energy availability and resilience of the grid.
Bulley’s session will discuss how data centres and power-intensive users can optimise the usage of their power assets; not only to achieve cost savings but to earn attractive additional revenue from grid services while maintaining full power protection of their critical loads.
Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important in the industry; reflecting broader attitudinal changes to sustainability and climate change. UPS technology is now extremely advanced and modern UPS systems are highly efficient.
UPS asset owners are thinking how best to fit these systems into their infrastructure to maximise efficiency while providing consistency and resilience with minimum capital expenditure (Capex). This has led to the growing popularity of advanced modular UPS systems with energy-saving features that can easily expand if a client’s load grows, while at the same time maintaining 100% uptime.
We no longer see customers trying to future-proof a facility by installing systems designed for a future expected total load. The days of installing large UPS systems only to find they are vastly oversized, affecting Capex/Opex and efficiency, are largely consigned to the past.
The impact of lithium-ion
Lithium-ion batteries have a lot of well-documented benefits: they are 70% smaller and considerably lighter than VRLA counterparts, which means more space can be allocated to servers. Lithium-ion also has a longer battery life which makes them attractive to adopt over VRLA.
Moving forward, Bulley believes we will see more lithium-ion batteries being installed – especially as their price has been falling in recent years – but we would expect their optimum use will be for very short duration standby applications, or for grid support services that require rapid recharge capability and the potential for many more discharge/ recharge cycles.
Longer duration lead acid standby batteries will still be the most cost-effective choice for standard UPS applications for the foreseeable future. There are also some very interesting new technical developments being made in the battery world, which eventually could see lithium-ion being superseded.
There could be a considerable uptake of demand-side response – any extra revenue generated could be turned into a competitive advantage
It is well known that demand-side response is in operation today in many sectors but, ironically perhaps, data centres are largely non-participants. The barrier to demand-side being incorporated into data centres has largely been due to the adverse nature of the industry, though many data centres are either already equipped for demand-side response or would only need small modifications.
Given this, and the fact that the data centre market is very competitive, there could be a considerable uptake of demand-side response. Any extra revenue generated could be turned into a competitive advantage, enabling data centre owners/operators to pass the savings onto their customers.
Future proofing data centres
Legacy designed data centres will certainly not be able to keep power usage to a reasonable level in today’s connected, mobile age due to constraints with incoming power supplies and local infrastructure, together with modern rack density provision.
There is a limit that the traditional UK grid infrastructure can cope with, and we will see more innovative technology including renewables like solar, and energy storage, being used to complement existing data centre power architectures.
Come and meet the Vertiv team on stand D720 at Data Centre World, 21-22 March, ExCeL London. Register for your free ticket today.