UPS Is Getting Greener as Well

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Considerations for Maintaining Critical Business Continuity

Knowledge is power, but in the data center power is also knowledge, because without it all of your data is out of reach.

This is why, of all the ups and downs that various data center technologies have experienced over the years, backup power has maintained steadily increasing demand.

According to Research and Markets, the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) market is on pace to see a 5.78 percent compound annual growth until 2018 – not spectacular, but as I said, steady. Part of this is motivated by fear: When the grid goes down, woe be to the CIO who doesn’t get resources back online within a moment’s notice. But part of it is due to the emerging green movement in the data center, which is affecting the facilities side of the house just as much as the data side, if not more. As R&M notes, demand for “Green UPS” is growing, particularly as hardware consolidation is driving a need for large-capacity solutions.

Indeed, the production, distribution and consumption of electric power these days has become a study in economics, say Steven Orscheln and Juan Cardona of electrical engineering consulting firm CCRD Partners. Much of the cost, in fact, comes from the need to overcome the many points of inefficiency that exist between the energy source and the device it powers. This includes AC/DC and voltage conversion, transformer distribution, equipment load, and a host of other factors. The newest UPS technologies featuring isolated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) and other components are driving efficiencies well past the 80 percent level that was standard for many years into the mid- and even high 90s.

Toshiba, for example, recently released the G9000 UPS in a 650kVa/650kW version featuring IGBTs in the rectifier/converter, DC/DC chopper and inverter sections, plus a double-conversion topology that drives AC/DC/AC efficiency to 97 percent for loads ranging from 50 to 100 percent. Even at 20 percent load, efficiency holds steady at 95 percent for redundant parallel operations. At the same time, the design reduces input current harmonic distortion to less than 3 percent, eliminating the need for front-end harmonic filtration, while an improved dynamic response allowed the company to remove the output transformer, reducing weight, noise and footprint.

Meanwhile, Schneider Electric has begun shipping the Galaxy VM modular UPS featuring a three-phase, on-line design that reduces consumption for mid-level deployments. This includes an ECOnversion mode that bypasses unused electrical components that are exhibiting normal power conditions in order to drive operating efficiency as high as 99 percent. The system also features removable battery modules and fans, as well as top and bottom cable access, allowing it to be installed and serviced within a wide variety of legacy power configurations. As well, it supports Schneider’s Modbus communications protocol, allowing centralized management through the company’s programmable logic controllers and the StruxureWare DCIM software stack.

It is never fun when the lights go out, but when the data is gone as well, even temporarily, business and the economy suffer greatly. The UPS’s job is not just to provide power in an emergency, but continuous power so that critical systems do not lose their states and force a reboot. Neglect them at your own risk.

Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.

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