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Reducing Carbon Footprint in Data Centres: The Role of Modular UPS Systems

In our increasingly connected world, the demand for data continues to surge, driven by factors such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. However, this growth comes at a cost, with data centres consuming approximately 3% of the world’s daily energy production and contributing 2% to global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the environmental impact of the aviation industry. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the environmental challenges posed by data centres and look into the solutions offered by modular Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, focusing on insights from a white paper published by Riello UPS.

Environmental Impact of Data Centres

Data centres use energy for two main functions: powering IT equipment and maintaining optimal operating temperatures through air conditioning. According to TechUK, electricity can account for 25 to 60% of a data centre’s total overhead costs. As a result, there is a growing need for data centres to become more energy-efficient to mitigate environmental impact and adhere to new directives and regulations.

The Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric, developed by the Green Grid consortium, has been a traditional measure of data centre efficiency. However, it has limitations and doesn’t consider factors such as climatic differences, water usage, and the use of renewable energy. Several alternative metrics, including Green Power Usage Effectiveness (GPUE), Data Centre Infrastructure Efficiency (DCIE), Grid Usage Effectiveness (GUE), and Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE), aim to address these limitations, with CUE specifically focusing on carbon emissions.

The Role of Modular UPS in Improving Efficiency

One significant contributor to energy efficiency in data centres is the UPS system. Traditional UPS units often operate optimally at high loads, leading to inefficiencies when operating at lower loads. Modular UPS systems, on the other hand, offer improved efficiency, scalability, and greater interconnectivity with modern systems.

Modular UPS installations consist of rack-mounted units connected in parallel, providing the necessary power and redundancy. This modular approach allows for proportional design and installation based on specific load requirements, reducing the risk of oversizing and unnecessary capacity, thereby enhancing efficiency and lowering energy consumption.

In recent years, advancements in modular UPS technology have led to smaller, lighter units that generate less heat, requiring less energy and cooling. These units are also transformerless, improving efficiency by an additional 5% compared to traditional monolithic UPS systems, achieving up to 96% efficiency even at 25% load.

ECO Mode, UPS Monitoring, and Battery Storage

Modular UPS units can further enhance efficiency by operating in “ECO mode,” reaching up to 99% efficiency. However, careful consideration is necessary to assess potential risks to the data centre’s critical load.

The compatibility of modular UPS systems with Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Data centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software enables real-time monitoring and optimization of overall performance. This connectivity is particularly valuable for large data centres distributed across different locations.

Additionally, UPS batteries can serve as reserves for renewable energy, contributing to Demand-Side Response (DSR) models. Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries, commonly used in modular UPS systems, offer higher power density and the potential to store surplus energy during periods of low demand, which can be resold to the National Grid during peak periods, generating additional revenue for data centre operators.

A Practical Example of Efficiency and Savings

A case study involving Riello UPS illustrates the significant impact of improving UPS efficiency. By replacing large, inefficient, and transformer-based UPS units with the Riello UPS Multi Power —a more compact, modular, and transformer-free solution—a data centre achieved a 4% increase in efficiency, resulting in substantial cost savings and environmental improvements.

The annual carbon emissions at the two sites were reduced by 71.89%, air conditioning costs decreased by 71.81%, and cooling energy savings of up to 1.25 million kWh were achieved. The efficiency improvements also led to a 59% reduction in UPS footprint per square meter, allowing for future expansion.

Conclusion

As data centres continue to play a crucial role in our digital world, the need for sustainable practices becomes paramount. Modular UPS systems, exemplified by the advancements highlighted in the Riello UPS case study, offer an effective solution to reduce energy consumption, lower carbon emissions, and optimize overall efficiency. As a proud distributor of Riello UPS in South Africa, Standby Systems is committed to providing state-of-the-art solutions that contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for data centres in the region. You can read more about Standby System’s partnership with Riello in this blog post. At Standby Systems, we have a team of experts who can advise you on which AROS Riello UPS system is best for your specific needs. Visit Standby Systems’ website or contact us at 011 794 2541 or  011 794 3406 or WhatsApp 082 450 2361.

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