Intelligent UPS System and Lithium-Ion Batteries: Opening Doors in the Datacenter

Millions of UPS systems in data centers around the globe use various types of batteries to provide transitional backup power in the event of an unplanned outage. That means there are hundreds of millions of batteries storing vast amounts of largely unused energy scattered around the world. The data center industry has long seen this as an embedded inefficiency in a system that relentlessly roots out even modest inefficiencies. In developed parts of the world with reliable utility power, where outages are rare, why not leverage some of that unused power stored in batteries proactively?

VRLA batteries make it harder

Of course, it isn’t that simple. For decades, the vast majority of those batteries have been valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries, similar to the battery in your car. Would you be comfortable using the “unused” energy in that battery when you aren’t using it to start your car? VRLA batteries aren’t especially efficient in the first place, and while they do the job required of a UPS, they run down relatively quickly. Tapping into VRLA batteries when they’re not being used for data center backup isn’t just risky, it’s reckless. For this reason, it rarely if ever happens.

Say ‘Hello” to the new energy storage technology: Lithium-ion batteries

Things are changing in the data center, however. Lithium-ion batteries are leading a wave of more advanced energy storage technologies that provide longer lasting, more versatile transitional power options. This presents opportunities for organizations to explore more creative uses of those batteries and potentially some elegant interactions between their UPS systems and the grid. This is one of the 2019 data center trends identified by a global team of experts from around Vertiv.

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Ryan Abbott