Electrical Review / Data Centre Review: The Benefits Of UPS Energy Storage

Not one but two articles exploring a couple of very different ways data centres can tap into UPS energy storage.

March’s editions of Electrical Review and Data Centre Review are two of the most anticipated publications of the year, coming as they do in the immediate run-up to the Data Centre World extravaganza.

Naturally, Riello UPS has a prime spot not just at the event, but in both of the magazines. While the publications differ, this month’s focus was similar. The UK’s changing energy outlook and the impact of a shift towards renewables and battery storage.

We tackle this issue by exploring two very distinct ways UPS energy storage can be used. Firstly, the rewards on offer from feeding into the smart grid. Secondly, the more radical approach of ditching the National Grid altogether and relying on just onsite generation for power.

front cover of Electrical Review magazine's March 2019 edition
COVER STARS: We tackle the topic of smart electricity grids


Electrical Review: Rethinking The Role Of UPS With Smart Grids

This piece urges data centre operators to rethink the role of their UPS. While the move to renewable sources such as solar and wind is welcome, they’re unpredictable. That makes it more difficult for the National Grid to maintain both the balance between supply and demand, along with a stable frequency.

Demand side response (DSR) is one of the network’s primary solutions to this issue. Basically, it’s incentivising energy users to shift from peak to off-peak periods to reduce the strain on the mains supply.

Uninterruptible power supplies play a vital role in protecting the power in data centres large and small. But how often is the backup power actually needed? Traditionally, many UPS systems sit idly in the background – an expensive but underutilised asset.

Taking greater advantage of UPS battery storage offers the potential to transform a reactive system into a ‘virtual power plant’ feeding back into the grid.

Our article explores some of the mechanisms available to encourage the growth of smart grid-ready UPS. Reserve Services, such as the Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR), cover unexpected spikes in demand or lack of generation. Another option is Frequency Response, which ensures a stable grid within one hertz of 50Hz.

We highlight the advantages of Firm Frequency Response (FFR), which offers payments to businesses that can turn up generation or drop demand by at least 1 MW at 10 or 30 seconds’ notice.

Read more about UPS energy storage feeding into smart grids on pages 22-24

close up of data centre server racks
ENERGY-INTENSIVE: Modern hyperscale data centres are power-hungry beasts

Data Centre Review: Taking Back Control By Going Off Grid

There is a rather more radical option available. With electricity costs predicted to rise by 45% by 2028, is there any point in large-scale energy users staying tied to the National Grid? What if they could go it alone through a combination of onsite generation and battery storage?

Such an approach is only a viable choice for sizeable energy users. But when you realise a large data centre will have a £3 million electricity bill (30 GWh of power a year), it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

Many mission-critical sites feel uneasy about DSR and feeding into the National Grid. The financial rewards aren’t worth it, and they don’t want to give up control to a third-party (the Grid or an aggregator).

But going off-grid promises certain benefits. And it certainly doesn’t correspond to the ‘idealistic’ lifestyle choices often associated with the phrase.

We explain how off-grid power generation provides greater security of supply and reduces the risk of sudden wholesale price fluctuations. It also helps lower energy bills and carbon emissions. While it can even futureproof data centres against the likelihood of increasingly stringent rules and regulations.

Find out more about going off grid in March’s DCR magazine on pages 20-21

Two very different perspectives, but two practical examples of UPS energy storage in action!

We hope you enjoy both articles and if you have any other topics you’d like us to cover, let us know in the comments.