Powering hyperscale and large scale data centers using sustainable UPS infrastructure

01 October 2021

By Tomas Arlegui

Tomás Arlegui, Managing Director, Piller Ibérica S.L.U

The links between data center sustainable operation, financial management and commercial success are closer than ever before.  

Environmental, Sustainability and Governance are top of the agenda for regulators, planning authorities, customers and investors.  

Hyperscale data center operators have known this for several years and have embedded it into their thinking and operations.  

But are the big tech companies who operate individual 100MW+ data centres at single sites or at campuses around the world taking every advantage available when it comes to power reliability and sustainability?  

Even as they expand their environmental protection methods and sustainable strategies in areas such as direct investment in renewable power generation, are they missing something when it comes to the power chain design inside the data center?

Scale and demand 

There are now over 650 hyperscale data centers in operation around the globe. And more are coming. Amazon, Google and Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, ByteDance and Tencent lead the market.  

Building at 100MW+ power capacity calls for different construction techniques. And all must be seen to be sustainable and gain "green" certification.

The explosion and demand for IT services in the cloud is setting a new course for designers, builders and operators of the new data center infrastructure.  

The building of these new facilities is the 21st century equivalent of last century’s building of power stations, hydro power and electricity grids.  

And just as the energy sector transitions to carbon net zero generation and distribution operations so data center designers, developers, builders and operators must do everything possible to eradicate carbon and GHG emissions from every part of the construction and operation of digital infrastructure.  

It is clear that Data Center designers are placing greater emphasis on the design and choices of technology, use of materials, recycle and reuse, efficiency and net zero carbon footprints. This will be achieved through removing complexity by using fewer components and electrical infrastructure units. And this must be economically sustainable.  

Sustainable UPS at scale 

Big technology companies know they are not immune from ESG. In fact, the focus on the sustainability of their digital infrastructure is growing. And they have responded with total commitment, real actions and targets on environmental management.  

They know that data center sustainability means creating a power infrastructure topology that is future ready.  

In traditional data center builds IT rooms were standardized at 500kW of power and then replicated across the facility. But now hyperscale data halls require power at a different scale. It does not seem feasible that hyperscale data halls would use hundreds or thousands of individual low power rating Static UPS units.  

This conflicts with the goal to reduce both construction and operating costs, without lowering the Tier III or Tier IV protection requirements.

That means reducing the physical footprint of power infrastructure.  

At hyperscale it is not feasible to roll in many hundreds of UPS units with low power ratings in order to reach the desired power levels of tens of MWs.  

Even the number of UPS elements such as long distance cable laying add too much to the financial and carbon cost.  

It is clear that hyperscale data centers are likely to become power generators when demand response sees them feed power back to the grid at times of high demand and stressed capacity.  

That is why in the last decade Piller decided to develop its product roadmap around the scale and sustainability of UPS systems that are optimsed to deliver stable, reliable power from renewable sources and bi-directional power delivery at scale.  

Piller electrically coupled UPS modules, with dynamic technology, have single unit power ratings from 1MW to 3.2MW. Designed with fewer components than traditional static UPSs they delivered greater performance and efficiency.  

Starting with power ratings at MW plus scale means paralleling Piller UPS modules rapidly scales to tens of MWs needed for hyperscale operations.  

Systems easily exceed 40MW, in redundant parallel Tier IV topologies with a smaller number of UPS modules. UPS infrastructure at scale operating at Medium Voltage reduces power losses.

Economic drivers demand sustainability at scale and this is what Piller UPS infrastructure delivers for next generation hyperscale and large scale data center designs.  

To learn more about technical and business sustainability and how Piller UPS addresses the needs of hyperscale cloud and large scale data center operations: FUTURE OF ENERGY FOR SUSTAINABLE AND SCALABLE DATA CENTERS