Data centers will be major beneficiaries of the emergence of smart cities, which will require lots of connectivity, data storage and computer power for analytics to crunch all that data.
Data centers are power-hungry creatures using around 200 terawatt hours each year. That is more than the UK’s annual energy consumption and around two percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. And that number will only increase due to expected growth of 35 percent per annum because of data traffic expansion. But most of that energy doesn’t go on powering the servers; instead it’s needed for cooling – both servers and the power supply itself. With all this in mind, it’s vital to have a reliable and energy efficient backup power system in place to reduce the risk of outages.
Power problems will happen, but a well-designed uninterruptable power supply (UPS) – the backup power systems that should ensure continued functioning in the event of a failure of the main power supply – will ensure seamless operation by drawing power from a battery until the backup generator is operating. UPS issues account for 25 percent of data center outages. The average cost of downtime is estimated at $9,000 per minute. With the data center market becoming ever more important to smart cities, these risks will only be more acute in the future.
One example of changing technology can be found in the kind of batteries used in the UPS. Most of the industry still uses lead-acid batteries, which are big and heavy and need a lot of cooling.
However, the latest lithium-ion data center battery systems offer greater power density, so they can be up to three times more compact and six times lighter. They also last longer than lead acid – up to 20 years, compared with four to six years. And because they work in higher temperatures, they require less cooling. That lowers costs and frees up more space in the data center for servers. Another big benefit is that lithium-ion data center battery solutions are self-monitored, so operators are constantly aware of the battery’s health and don’t need to waste money replacing it too early.
As smart cities rely more and more on data centers to support their digital operations, it’s vital that the underlying backup power system can be counted on in an emergency. The financial and reputational cost of failure is simply too high.