The Master+ Model: Rethinking The Role Of A UPS System

Riello UPS teams up with energy trading company RWE to offer data centres an innovative new UPS system that harnesses battery storage to reduce costs while increasing reliability.

Modern Britain’s energy mix is changing. Renewable sources play an ever-increasing role in the pursuit of a low-carbon mix. Coal, thermal, and nuclear are getting phased out.

Because of this evolution, the National Grid needs an open-minded approach to ensure a stable consistent electricity supply. Battery storage is a rapidly growing force, in no part aided by the ongoing fall in the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Smart energy grids appear to be where the future is heading, a way to balance supply with demand in real-time.

However, data centres and other mission-critical environments remain unconvinced. Their overriding need for availability and uptime takes precedence.

Even though energy costs can account for around 60% of a facility’s running costs, operators are unsure about using their backup power for anything other than emergency backup.

Riello UPS is working alongside RWE, the second-biggest electricity producer in Germany, on a solution that overcomes these obstacles.

Logo of the RWE Group, blue text on a square white background
PERFECT PARTNERS: Based in Essen, Germany, RWE is one of Europe’s leading energy trading companies

Rethinking The Role Of A UPS System

Uninterruptible power supplies are essential parts of any mission-critical site. They’re the ultimate insurance if there’s a serious failure with the mains power.

In advanced societies such as the UK though, such outages or network crashes are rare events.

Arguably, more often than not a UPS system isn’t often called upon. You could even say it’s something of an underutilised – and expensive – asset.

So what’s the solution? Riello UPS and RWE have developed something that reduces capital and operational costs, while at the same time increasing resilience and security of supply. It even opens up potential revenue streams from feeding back into the grid.

It’s a UPS system fit for the future.

300-400 kVA version of Riello UPS Master HE UPS system
MODIFICATION: Our work with RWE features an adapted Master Plus HE UPS system

The Master+ Model

The innovative offering is a bespoke, specially-modified version of our Master Plus HE uninterruptible power supply.

It is fitted with an adapted rectifier that allows electricity to flow two ways, to and from the grid. In addition, the UPS is equipped with either premium lead-acid or high power density lithium-ion batteries.

These cells are subsidised by RWE and also utilise the firm’s sophisticated monitoring software and comms technologies. This means the system is capable of continuously interacting with the grid.

The batteries are divided into two sections. The first part’s only role is to provide backup power in case of emergency. The other ‘commercial’ element stores electricity that can be used to feed into the grid via demand side response mechanisms such as Firm Frequency Response (FFR).

However, if a power failure does occur, any energy remaining in the ‘commercial’ can be activated to complement the main backup, significantly increasing overall runtime.

The data centre or other suitable facility, such as a hospital or factory, doesn’t even participate in the energy market itself. RWE takes on that task and any associated risks.

Riello UPS smart grid ready UPS systems icon showing links between a UPS, batteries, energy management systems, data centre server rooms, and the power distribution network
SMART THINKING: The Master+ model is an example of a smart grid-ready UPS system

What Are The Advantages Of The Master+ Model?

Embracing smart grid-ready UPS transforms a data centre’s ultimate insurance into value-added equipment working for you 24/7.

  • Highly efficient UPS system plus subsidised premium battery
  • Longer battery life and improved reliability thanks to mandatory monitoring
  • Reduced initial capital investment compared to similar UPS systems (CAPEX)
  • Lower ongoing maintenance costs than traditional UPS systems (OPEX)
  • Reduce or avoid costly electricity grid network charges
  • Potential revenue streams from participating in Firm Frequency Response or other demand side response schemes

On the downside, the Riello UPS-RWE Master+ model does require slightly more space than a standard UPS system to house the additional battery capacity.

Although all figures are project-dependent, the business case for data centres is compelling.

For a site with a typical 1 MW load and batteries providing 10 minutes runtime and 1 MWh of FFR, the Master+ model offers a CAPEX saving of 21% and OPEX saving of 50%.

* Projection only – actual costs and savings are project dependent