Networks Europe: Futureproofing The Data Centre With Smart Grid UPS

In an increasingly unpredictable and competitive environment, why smart grid-ready UPS can help operators with futureproofing the data centre for long-term success.

Even with all the Brexit uncertainty, data centres in the UK continue to thrive. Total capacity will soon top 900,000m2 – the equivalent of 140 full-size football pitches.

Networks Europe magazine logo, white backgroundA society ever more dependent on ‘Internet of Things’ interconnectivity demands the storage and processing power provided by data centres to thrive.

But all that computing needs electricity. And in 2018, total UK power generation (335 TWh) dropped to its lowest levels since 1994. Of course, some of this is due to advances in efficiency. However, it’s part of a wider trend as the nation’s power plants have been on a steady decline for more than a decade.

While renewable energy now produces a third of the UK’s power, this changing energy mix does pose a significant challenge for the National Grid. How can it maintain the ever-tricky balance between insatiable demand with a limited and unpredictable supply?

green field in bright blue sky full of solar panels and wind turbines to represent the growth of renewable energy
TRICKY TASK: Our increasing dependence on unreliable renewable sources such as wind and solar power makes it more difficult for the network to ensure a stable mains supply

In such a landscape, shifting more towards smart electricity grids seems the obvious solution. Businesses and even homes feeding into the grid to help real-time balancing.

We explain to Networks Europe magazine why power-hungry data centres are well-placed to capitalise on this development.

In addition, we also highlight why unlocking the hidden potential of a UPS can help future-proof data centres in an age of increased volatility and competition.

Leo Craig Riello UPS quote: Internet of things devices depend on clean and consistent power
TRICKY BALANCE: Increased processing power requires extra electricity

What Is A Smart Grid Ready UPS?

Essentially, a smart grid-ready UPS in an uninterruptible power supply that can take part in battery storage. In all likelihood, this involves the use of lithium-ion batteries, although traditional sealed lead-acid (SLA) cells are also viable.

Electricity generated during cheaper off-peak periods is saved in the batteries, then used as an alternative to peak-demand mains power. Any surplus can even be sold back to the network for profit. This demand side response (DSR) helps the National Grid spread out energy use. While participants benefit from lower electricity bills and from the revenues gained from various financial incentives.

Our article explores some of the main inducements relevant to data centres. The main one of these is Firm Frequency Response (FFR). This is where an organisation can feed in power or reduce demand by 10 MW within 30 seconds of a specific trigger, for example, a power station tripping out.

With an average of 800 MW of FFR required to balance the National Grid, that’s a regular demand which justifies the initial investment battery storage needs.

Such returns make energy storage both an immediate and ongoing option for data centres. Not only does it mitigate against possible power problems. It also reduces electricity bills and opens up the scope to generate revenues from selling back into the network.

Read more about how smart grids can help with futureproofing the data centre in the latest Networks Europe

Page 6 of the magazine also includes a write-up about our new extended 5-year warranty