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New Data Center Power Sources

alternative energyIn spite of advances in technology that should decrease data center power consumption (such as virtualization and cloud computing) power usage is on the rise. According to the EPA, it’s expected that data center power consumption requirements will double over the next five years. To be sure, without these new technologies, it’s likely that power consumption would be even higher than that today.

Still, keeping up with data center power needs is going to require some creative thinking on the part of data center managers and others. To address the increasing power needs, many data center managers are turning to other sources of power, from solar arrays to wind and hydro power solutions. The big question is, however, whether those power sources will truly pay off as time goes on.

Part of the problem, however, is that it’s hard to justify the capital investment in a new data center power source right now, especially when that means replacing a power system that’s already reliable.

Going solar

One of the options available to data centers is solar power. Adding a solar array can be a net gain to a business, as you may actually be able to sell excess solar-generated power back to the utility in order to help pay your AC power bill. Solar initiatives can become a profit center for the business.

Microturbines

Another new data center power source being used in some environments is microturbines. In the most basic sense, microturbines are small, natural gas-powered jet engines. They can produce large amounts of power, for both your data center and for other company use, depending on how your data center is situated. Here again, depending on state and local regulations, you may be able to sell excess power back to the local power company. These microturbines also drive chillers that turn the exhaust from the turbines into chilled water that helps to cool the data center.

Fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells are showing some promise, as well. The biggest draw to fuel cells is that they don’t produce emissions. On the other hand, they are tremendously expensive. Fuel cells provide a high degree of reliability, with some estimates putting them at seven-nines – about 3 seconds of downtime a year.

While it’s hard to predict how the wind will blow, one thing is for sure: change is coming to the data center and its power needs.


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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.