EDITOR ’ S QUESTION
CIARAN FORDE , DATA CENTRE SEGMENT LEADER , EATON
he rising cost of
T energy has become a serious concern for large energy users such as data centre owners . Many face an uncertain future , unsure whether prices will continue to rise , whether to pass the cost on to their customers and whether they even have the cashflow to manage the situation . This lack of certainty has left some unable to plan or unwilling to invest in their infrastructure .
All of this has highlighted an urgent need for greater efficiency , requiring data centres to minimise the amount of energy they use , and serves as an important reason to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources and offer grid support .
Investing in renewables
Businesses of all sizes across Europe are exploring renewables to varying degrees . Iceland runs predominantly on renewable energy , for instance , while biofuels and waste make up a sizeable proportion of Latvia ’ s energy mix and Norway enjoys a surplus of hydropower . On the other hand , renewables only account for 8 % of the Netherlands ’ energy supply . Regardless of this regional disparity , the transition is undoubtedly underway across all sectors and economies .
Organisations are also beginning to adopt new architectures such as energy storage and on-site generation of primary power to reduce dependency and enable greater resiliency . This may reduce pressure and demand on the grid and help mitigate against fluctuations in the currently volatile energy market . Microsoft ’ s expansion to its Dublin data centres , for example , will feature both primary power generation and banks of Lithium-ion batteries approved for special grid-interaction . This interaction provides auxiliary services to the grid to enable it to contend with variable sources like ‘ onshore ’ and ‘ offshore ’ wind , solar and other renewables increasingly powering the grid .
And in the tech sector , inspired by the big cloud providers , a growing number of organisations are exploring the active market for Power Purchase Agreements ( PPAs ), allowing them to procure green energy at the same time as being directly involved in investing in next-generation renewable technology .
Giving back to the grid
A critical component in the data centre is the Uninterruptible Power Supply ( UPS ). This extensive backup power system ensures power quality and protects the data centre against unforeseen grid outages . That same energy store can
TRANSITION IS UNDOUBTEDLY UNDERWAY ACROSS ALL SECTORS AND ECONOMIES .
now be used to provide auxiliary energy services back to the grid when required , without impacting the data centre ’ s performance or integrity . The Eaton EnergyAware UPS is one such system and has already been deployed in several data centres for a class of service called Fast Frequency Response ( FFR ).
With data centres implementing such services , it will allow the grid operator to onboard ever-increasing levels of renewable energy and help to accelerate the transition . This coupled with the energy crisis may also foster a more collaborative relationship between the producers , grid operators and large energy users .
As a large energy user , the data centre industry is very much affected by the cost-of-energy crisis . Addressing its impact – on data centre owners and their customers – requires a greater focus on both the transition to renewables and how existing infrastructure can be utilised to improve efficiency and resiliency , and to help stabilise the grid . www . intelligentdatacentres . com