Surging supply necessitates contingency power for under-strain FLAP markets

A large surge in data centre supply across the FLAP market and an anticipated record-breaking year overall means facility operators must explore distributed energy solutions to avoid potential disruption from under-strain power grids.

This warning comes from temporary power specialist Aggreko and follows the publication of a recent CBRE report predicting that 2019’s supply record of 318MW registered will be broken in 2021. Specifically, the real estate investment firm has reported 114MW came online in Q3 2021, with 94MW predicted over Q4 as part of a continued upward trajectory into 2022.

Billy Durie, Global Sector Head for Data Centres, said: “The data centre market continues to be extremely vibrant, and driven by ever-increasing colocation supply in Amsterdam and Frankfurt specifically. Yet despite this good news, challenges still remain around power provision as 2022 begins, with both cities’ grids under strain, new builds subject to restrictions, and London and Paris also experiencing long-standing energy supply issues.

“Consequently, we must ensure this success is built on a solid foundation of stable, non-fluctuating power in these affected areas, and stakeholders must be aware of potential legislative shifts from this issue. The Irish market provides a glimpse of what may happen if supply continues to outstrip energy provision, and further underlines the need for pre-emptive steps now.”

Recent events in Ireland include the recent decision from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to reserve the right to place a moratorium on data centre connections to protect security of supply. Alongside this, EirGrid now requires data centre builds offset grid power consumption with on-site, decentralised energy provision, otherwise known as ‘Firm Capacity’.

“The steps taken by the Irish government starkly show that there are caveats to the traditional model of supply-and-demand in the colocation data centre market,” concludes Billy. “Namely, grid-based energy provision to these facilities is no longer guaranteed, but instead classed as ‘flexible’.

“The CBRE’s latest report shows this situation is not far off repeating in the FLAP markets, which may become more stringently regulated to combat this growing concern. Consequently, data centre suppliers should take steps now to become more self-sufficient if they are to effectively loadbank test future facilities, access the grid and avoid blackouts and other disruption.

“The provision of environmentally-friendly energy solutions including Stage V generators and hybrid battery systems could therefore prove crucial to bridging energy gaps during construction continued facility operation. Alongside providing a steady, decentralised power supply, such solutions can operate in urban areas subject to stricter emissions rules – a key concern given where colocation centres are often situated.”

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