Thursday, June 21, 2012
Smart grid could have monumental impact on data centers
The mainstream utility grid in the United States is approximately a century old. The technology has changed some over the years with a few periodic advances, but the core architectures that guide the country's power system date back to a period that few alive today would remember. Because of this, a recent GigaOM report explained that a narrative of the United States' power development over the past 60 years would not be a story of innovation and efficiency, but a tale of unsustainable growth.
According to the news source, current electricity use in the United States is approximately 13-times greater than it was in 1950. With this rapid expansion in power needs over the past six decades, the country has become a global power in terms of the amount of electricity its residents consume. Approximately 20 percent of all electricity use in the world takes place in the United States.
With so much power being used in the country, utility grid inefficiencies have become a major area of emphasis in recent years. The rise of the smart grid has provided hope for more efficient power use and increased deployment of renewable energy resources. The technology could have a major impact on the nation's utility grid in general, but its effect on the data center industry could be even greater.
Data centers are built to use extremely large quantities of power, putting incredible stress on the energy grid. However, they often operate at just 10 percent of their usual capacity, leading to considerable waste in terms of power delivery potential, the report said. The current utility grid is not capable of handling that, especially in regions where large companies are building state-of-the-art facilities to support advanced functions. Smart grid has the potential to resolve these problems by providing more insight into actual power delivery needs, allowing data center operators to depend more on renewable energy resources and relieving the power burden on the mainstream utility grid.
As of yet, smart grid deployment have had a minimal impact on how much people can depend on renewable energy resources. However, multiple recent studies have indicated that the technology has matured enough to the point that many utility providers are ready to move beyond basic smart grid setups and begin implementing more solutions that will help encourage renewable energy use.
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