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Smart grid could enable better power generation at data centers

By Max Burkhalter
October 16, 2012
With utility costs rising at a startling pace, many data center operators are evaluating the benefits of developing their own power generation systems. According to a recent Data Center Journal report, upgrading power infrastructure to support on-site generation has become a key consideration for many data center operators because costs are rising alongside energy demands, making it necessary to respond with supplementary sources of power. While this can be a complex and demanding process, the smart grid can help you get your energy delivery system ready for on-site generation.

Reasons to turn to power generation
The news source explained that while you may initially look at power generation as a nice cost-cutting measure, it also provides considerable operational benefits. If you use wind or solar power, the entire process can be much more sustainable than other power generation methods. Furthermore, organizations depending on traditional utility infrastructure have to consider how they will respond to energy surges and usage spikes, which can create major operational challenges. These issues can be overcome through on-site power generation, freeing data center operators from the cost, environmental and risk issues related to using third-party power sources.

Where smart grid fits
If you've been paying attention to the smart grid news in recent months, the term microgrid may have come to your attention. A microgrid is a small utility grid that operates within the larger grid, but can also be deployed separate from the infrastructure. Using advanced networking technologies, including serial to Ethernet tools for media conversion, data center operators can establish their own facility-wide microgrid.

Using smart grid technology, you can track how much power is consumed at any time within the microgrid, how much is being generated by different sources and which areas are liable to face usage spikes. This makes on-site generation easier because you can better understand how much power is needed and control how much is delivered. This added level of intelligence also makes it easier to rely on intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power.

Furthermore, a microgrid improves reliability by providing the necessary control and oversight to guard against surges and spikes while also noticing malfunctions quickly and making repairs more easily. The microgrid can also be connected to the primary utility grid, which it can use to gather energy as needed if the on-site power generation systems are unavailable.

By combining smart grid with on-premise power generation, you can gain considerable sustainability, cost and maintenance benefits in the data center power network.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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