Data centers shape nearly all aspects of modern life and create unprecedented value and opportunity for their customers and investors; but only when the power is on. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology has evolved to provide an outstanding, real-time failover capability for unexpected power outages.
Today, a new data center without UPS is like a new car without an airbag. Power, however, has evolved into much more than a resource or a simple input. The type of power you use tells of your commitment to reducing carbon emissions. The ability to weather literal and proverbial storms is a board-level topic because downtime can mean losses measured in thousands of dollars per second. To continue as a leader in the space, data center energy and operations leaders must develop resilience against uncertain grid uptime.
For one state-of-the-art critical data center company, resilience came in the form of a 425 kW natural gas engine, a combined heat and power (CHP) system, which generates electricity as well as chilled water to meet the cooling loads of their server farms. The CHP system replaced an electric screw compressor chiller which was dependent on grid electricity to provide thermal management for servers. The entire system included a no-break provision, to guarantee interruption-free power in the event of a grid outage and is monitored by an onboard computer, which provides two-way communication to the company’s 24/7 remote monitoring center. The service agreement also stipulates that the service team will arrive on-site within four hours of an event to ensure maximum service availability, 365 days a year. That is the kind of peace of mind customers and investors want around their critical data and cloud operations.
While the hardware and specialized operations and maintenance contract in this example were acquired through a direct capital purchase that is not the only option available. Not every balance sheet can support an outright purchase, which is why it’s essential for data center managers to select a partner who can bring a broad range of financing solutions to the table. A competent partner can also make the path from concept to implementation simple. In this case a full range of services were provided by expert technicians, including feasibility studies, system testing, and ongoing maintenance. This type of turn-key approach, using modular and extensible components, allows data center companies to keep costs under control, ensure quality, and benefit from solutions that can scale with any facility.
This data center company now enjoys a highly efficient CHP tri-generation system, which guarantees that there will be no interruption of power in the event of a utility failure. Beyond that, the CHP system has reduced the data center’s carbon emissions by over 650 tons per year, and the company expects average energy savings of more than $135,000 annually. If the UPS system you depend on is the cornerstone of your uptime ambitions, it might be time to explore how a holistic energy resilience program can insulate you and your customers from costly power failures.