Microgrids can help data centre operators improve electric resilience, lower energy costs and achieve sustainability goals, according to an article sourced from Data Centre Frontier. This is Part 1 of a two-part series.
As microgrids emerge as an option for data centre power, DCF is partnering with Microgrid Knowledge to provide the best available information on the topic. Our two publications are teaming up on a series of white papers and a virtual event to offer deep expertise on microgrids and data centres. Here’s more on the white papers.
The internet is an essential tool of the modern world, and the data centres and servers that comprise the backbone of the internet have become critical infrastructure.
With more than 5 billion people online every day (and nearly 20 000 new internet users every hour), access to the internet is increasingly essential. Many of the systems that businesses and the public depend on rely on digital systems to function.
Worldwide, the estimated seven million data centres that underpin the internet consume roughly 3% of the global electricity supply and represent nearly 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
With so many people and systems interconnected through the internet, disruptions and downtime at data centres have widespread impacts that can shut down critical systems, disable infrastructure and ripple through the economy.
When downtime is measured in the tens of thousands of dollars per minute, the value of resilience is much more immediate and tangible, leading many data centre owners and operators to explore microgrids for resilience and cost savings.
The value of data centre resilience
Often caused by either loss of grid power or failure of onsite power equipment, these disruptive events are not rare. More than 60% of data centre operators have reported an outage in the past three years, according to Uptime Institute’s 2022 Global Data Centre Survey.
The cost of an outage at a data centre can range from a few hundred dollars for a small business to tens of thousands of dollars per minute at a large ‘server farm’, making the need for improved energy resilience as much about economics as performance for customers.
And as dependence on digital resources grows, the effects of data centre customers losing their access can ripple through the economy — like when an electrical failure at a Delta Airlines data centre caused 2 000 flights to be grounded and more than USD150-million in losses over three days.
To mitigate the risk of an outage, more than 40% of data centre owners reported making significant investments recently in the resilience of their physical infrastructure and increasing system redundancies. And while reliability rates for data centres are seeing incremental improvements, the costs of outages continue to escalate.
With the average cost of a single data centre outage reaching USD750 000 (and cloud hosting services an order of magnitude more), many operators are now going beyond temporary power solutions and taking advantage of the benefits of microgrids to ensure system uptime even when the grid goes down for extended periods of time.
Read further in Part 2…