Data centre market ready for the adoption of grid-interactive UPS

Advancements in UPS and batteries enable interaction with smart electric grid, contributing to pursuit of more efficient and sustainable data centres.

Driven largely by the need for energy demand management and greater sustainability, the data centre market is ready for the adoption of grid-interactive uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), according to a white paper, commissioned by intelligent power management company Eaton, from Omdia, market-leading data, research, and consulting business. The white paper, UPS Interacting with the Electric Grid can do more for Data Centres, is based on the results of a survey of 380 qualified IT decision makers across five regions (North America (the US and Canada), the UK and Ireland, Western Europe (France and Germany), Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark), and Australia) to better understand the adoption of UPS systems that interact with the grid. Among its findings, the survey reveals that 90% of respondents expect to deploy grid-interactive UPS within the next four years, with more than half (54%) expecting interaction within the next two years.

The main function of UPS systems in data centres is to increase reliability by protecting against power disturbances. UPS and batteries are used only in power outages, which means they can be available for other applications. Grid-interactive UPSs, such as Eaton’s EnergyAware, however, incorporate technologies that enable the equipment to sense and interact with the grid, thereby contributing to the pursuit of a more sustainable data centre.

Marco Nardi, product manager, EnergyAware UPS & Lithium batteries at Eaton commented: “Enabling a UPS to interact with the grid is an innovative way for data centre operators to do more with existing assets. It can enable them to integrate renewable energy resources into their power portfolio, balance energy supply and demand, reduce or defer grid infrastructure investment, and even create new revenue streams.”

Sustainability was identified as the top driver for grid-interactive UPS adoption, followed by recognition as technology innovation pioneer, reputational and competitive advantages, and managing energy demand response. Omdia suggests that these results can be seen as an indicator of how sustainability tops the agenda for most companies and that it can be perceived as a competitive advantage.

The white paper also reports that the grid-interactive UPS market is accelerating. Omdia forecasts that ongoing improvements to the technology’s feature set will cause revenue to grow at a 44% CAGR, reaching US$376m in 2026. While Western Europe currently has the highest demand for projects deploying grid-interactive UPS, Omdia expects most of this growth to come from North America, due to successful case studies, regulation, and policy incentives.

Lead author of the white paper, Moises Levy, PhD, senior principal analyst, Data Centre Physical Infrastructure at Omdia concludes: “The use of renewable energy is becoming the new normal in the data centre industry. However, the integration of variable renewable energy resources into a more dynamic electric grid comes with new challenges and technical requirements. Fortunately, data centres are uniquely positioned to contribute to the grid’s reliability, stability, and flexibility. It’s encouraging, therefore, to see that the market is ready to adopt UPS systems that interact bidirectionally with the grid and that can contribute to even more efficient and sustainable data centres.”

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