Power Solutions

Jim Stark, P.E. Principal of Engineering, Electronic Environments Corporation, says:

With the recent passing of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 (H.R. 2126) in March, new opportunities for data center efficiency have emerged.  The legislation originally introduced the TENANT STAR certification, which ensures best practices for energy efficiency in commercial buildings and federally operated data centers.  However, it has the potential to create a tremendous waterfall effect across the entire data center ecosystem, reducing energy loss and improving reliability.  These cost-savings initiatives have placed an added focus on emerging standards and recent distribution system advancements in the marketplace, which are making Direct Current (DC) power in the data center more viable than ever before.

Although DC power distribution systems can yield substantial capital cost savings for data centers today (i.e. cooling), DC Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) is not widely accepted in the data center industry and the 480V DC standard platform is rarely implemented because of its lack of scalability.  Currently, data centers receive Alternating Current (AC) voltage from an electrical utility, which must be lowered to a safe level to power equipment and converted numerous times to DC in order to feed the UPS. This conversion process has been deemed inefficient, resulting in heat loss, wasted energy and higher electricity costs.

To increase DC scalability, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is working with the Emerge Alliance, an industry association developing standards for commercial adoption of direct current (DC) power distribution, to create a simplified 380V DC UPS as a new build, retrofit or hybrid sustainability solution.  By implementing a 380V DC solution at the door of the facility, data center operators will no longer be required to reduce and convert 480V grid-supplied AC to power native DC data processing and power management equipment, and can then be routed directly to charge batteries to power servers and other native DC equipment.  Industry experts estimate this practice to reduce energy costs by 10 to 20 percent, with the possibility for even greater cost reduction by incorporating solar or other native DC energy sources.

Several hundred data centers across the U.S. and China are migrating to a DC direct distribution solution as a way to improve operational efficiencies.  In Princeton, NJ, QTS debuted its new 360,000-sq.ft. data center facility in September, featuring a 50-acre solar farm containing 57,000 solar panels generating 14.1 megawatts of DC.  The facility is home to the 180,000-sq.ft. McGraw-Hill data center, which requires four megawatts of power to operate three of its core businesses.

Benefits of 380V DC are not limited to improving operational efficiencies.  Other benefits include:

  1. Lower CAPEX and maintenance costs due to no need for electrical current conversion equipment;
  2. Increased efficiencies of up to 15 percent as there is no heat loss due to conversion from AC to DC;
  3. Reductions in OPEX through the integration of photovoltaic panels (solar);
  4. Cleaner power without the issues associated with grid-supplied AC power (power surges, power outages, brown outs and power spikes);
  5. Simplistic design, yielding improved reliability and less vulnerability; and
  6. Less real estate required as DC power can be directly plugged into equipment.

Electronic Environments Corporation is at the forefront of the exciting changes beginning to take shape across the data center landscape as 380V DC and other sustainable practices become integrated into data centers.

Join us December 9 at DatacenterDynamics Converged Dallas to explore this topic further when we present “Is it Finally Time for 380V DC Power in the Data Center?” at 12:20 PM.

To meet with Mr. Stark during the event, please email info@eecnet.com.

To learn more about EEC, visit www.eecnet.com.