As the need for data centers grows across virtually all industries, colocation providers are finding ways to stand out from the competition. In the past, reliability was the differentiating factor. However, running 24/7/365 isn’t exceptional today; it’s expected.
I believe that attracting companies to your data center means looking beyond resilience and toward sustainability.
Here are three ways microgrids help colocation data centers meet consistently high operational demands with sustainable solutions that bring value to stakeholders.
Microgrids provide sustainable energy
Sustainability is a priority for businesses around the world, and microgrids are an essential piece of this puzzle.
End-users are demanding fast data with a low environmental impact, and data center operators are listening. According to a 2017 report by Navigant Research, Apple, Facebook, and Salesforce have already turned to renewable energy sources to fuel their data centers.
Microgrids are a natural solution for companies that want to counteract the environmental impact of high-energy use. These systems effectively reduce a data center’s carbon footprint by utilizing one or more local, greener, and renewable energy sources such as solar, natural gas, microturbines, batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells. Microgrids take the energy generated by these distributed energy resources (DERs) and either add it to the conventional grid or, when disconnected, known as “islanding,” use it to support the loads separately.
The energy generated, stored, and consumed with microgrids using renewable sources is decarbonized and decentralized, which meets the needs of sustainability-focused industries and their end-users.
Sustainable energy is reliable
There is a direct link between sustainable and reliable energy.
Although customers count on data centers to operate without fail, issues happen. And when they do, colocation and data center professionals run the risk of losing profits and, potentially, customers. According to the Uptime Institute, roughly one-third of data centers experienced an outage in 2018. A third of those were due to power. Each time this happens, colocation and enterprise data centers lose money. The same study from the Uptime Institute found that one-third of outages cost more than $250,000.
Microgrids alleviate the stress of an outage. When the main grid goes down, a microgrid islands itself, thus providing continuous energy from the DERs to the data center. Because this energy is locally generated, stored, and consumed separate of the grid, its reliability is independent of the grid outage’s nature.
Smart grid solutions drive financial gains
Data centers find value in sustainable energy solutions.
Financially, smart energy solutions often equate to long-term savings. While microgrid installation and distributed energy generation both cost money, you can offset those fees with the energy-as-a-service finance model and little to no recurring costs. In addition, the International Renewable Energy Agency reports that prices of renewable power generation continue to fall. For example, the cost of generating solar power has dropped by 73 percent since 2010.
The value of microgrid technology isn’t just financial. A 2018 study for Futerra by OnePulse found that 88 percent of customers want the brands they use to be more environmentally friendly and ethical. Thus, companies looking to prove their environmental impact, inclusive of suppliers, will likely partner with colocation providers that also share these values.
Simply put, sustainable energy from microgrids is good for business.