The European Data Centre Association (EUDCA) has announced the publication of a new white paper entitled “Battery Opportunities for Data Centres.” Authored on behalf of the EUDCA Technical Committee by Gareth Williams, director at Arup, the new white paper discusses the impact of Lithium-ion batteries on the data centre space together with the potential benefits of which data centre operators might avail.
While Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) vendors and customers have traditionally specified Lead acid (VRLA) batteries in power back up solutions, recent reductions in the capital costs of Lithium-ion solutions have made them competitive with the older technology, offering a payback period of less than 5 years when the operational cost savings are considered.
The author says that within the US market, the capital cost differential has reduced even further with some UPS vendors now able to offer their larger clients Lithium-ion battery solutions for the same price as VRLA-based solutions.
The opportunities for data centres
From reduced footprint to increased environmental range and lifecycle, Lithium-ion presents a number of advantages to the data centre designer such as increasing autonomy, load or white space; providing alternatives for the battery location and environment; or allowing the batteries to be considered for a range of functions that would not previously have been considered acceptable with VRLA type batteries, including demand side response.
Alternative electrical distribution topologies
Making use of the reduced footprint associated with Lithium-ion to install an increased capacity allows the operator to move the batteries further upstream and protect even more of the site. The wider acceptable environmental range means the batteries could be relocated into the data hall and installed at PDU, row or even individual rack level. Locating the batteries this much closer to the IT load creates a range of further opportunities
Software Defined Power
Rack level battery capacity enabled by Lithium-ion technology is also an enabler for software defined power. Example use cases include allowing power to be diverted or reserved to meet the demands of specific applications, racks or rows; power allocation based upon priority level of the application during failure scenarios; and deploying multiple Service Level Agreements (SLAs) within the same data hall.
Lithium-ion – saint or sinner?
In summary, Gareth Williams states that Lithium-ion batteries make it possible for today’s data centre operators to develop a range of alternative distribution topologies, increase available white space, reduce or eliminate the need for dedicated cooling for batteries. The smaller footprint and increased cycle-life options provide the potential to generate additional income through the provision of grid support services and relocating batteries downstream creates alternative opportunities for Data Hall level distribution.
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