Schneider Electric has announced a new White Paper, ‘How Microgrids for Data Centres Increase Resilience, Optimise Costs, and Improve Sustainability’.
It provides a guide on how technological developments in analytics, sensors and systems management can help data centre operators harness local energy sources to improve the resilience of their facilities. Additional benefits include the ability to implement cost-savings, reduce demands on power supply and boost sustainability efforts, which are a concern for data centre end-users, operators and governments.
“With data centre technologies evolving and becoming more available, operators can utilise microgrids to improve resilience, energy efficiency and drive sustainable operations,” says Marc Garner, VP, Secure Power Division, Schneider Electric UK&I. “With this technology, providers can integrate on-site renewables, and generate revenue by storing electricity and selling it back to the grid.”
A microgrid provides power to consumers, comprising of a entity such as a data centre, or a cluster of facilities. The energy resources may include: diesel generators, used as backup power sources to the mains utility; combined cooling, heat and power systems where gas engines or turbines generate electricity; and storage systems.
The white paper details how a microgrid based on a three-layer architecture can be used to improve operational resilience. The first layer, comprising smart sensors based on Internet of Things technology, provides monitoring and control capability to distributed energy assets. The second layer comprises a microgrid controller and associated software to allow local Edge control to take place in real time. At the top layer, applications, analytics and services, typically hosted in the cloud, help decision makers to optimise how and when to produce, consume and store energy.
This helps to manage a multi-layered approach to system resilience, ensuring that there is sufficient battery and generation capacity in place to withstand any outages from the mains.
Microgrids can help optimise energy costs and maximise the use of sustainable energy. Generation of solar or wind energy can be integrated into the energy using control systems now available at cost-effective prices. Combined with analytic software that can predict weather conditions likely to be conducive to renewable energy generation, operators can reduce demand on mains power or even sell energy back, thereby reducing costs and boosting the viability of environmentally friendly energy production.
A report by Schneider Electric reveals the importance of sustainability and efficiency for multi-tenant data centre operators. Driven by customer demands, the report finds 80% of colocation service providers have major sustainability programs in place to improve the way they operate their data centres. Moreover, 57% of respondents believe that sustainability will be highly important competitive differentiators in the future, and 97% say that some or all of their customers are looking for commitments to sustainable practices.