WP#63 - Free Power Quality

13 March, 2015 | White Paper

George Navarro, Eaton Dusty Becker, Emerson Ian Bitterlin, Emerson Bill Campbell, Emerson Don Goddard, NetApp Harry Handlin, GE Energy Management Pam Lembke, IBM David Loucks, Eaton Stephen McCluer, Schneider Electric David Mohr, HP Bob Schuerger, HP Critical Facilities Services Jim Spitaels, Scheider Electric Charlie Swiontek, Murata Manufacturing Henry Wong, Intel

The concept of “Free Power Quality” is somewhat analogous to “free cooling.” The Green Grid’s explanation and endorsement of free cooling helped accelerate data center industry adoption of more efficient cooling techniques in data centers. Members of The Green Grid (and the broader data center audience) might view the topic of Free Power Quality as offering similar opportunities to enhance their facilities’ energy efficiency.

End-users are increasingly demanding that power quality vendors innovate. They want vendors to push the conventional boundaries of data center equipment and its implementation. They want to stop over-provisioning data centers with less efficient equipment.

Today’s data centers often have extremely high power quality from their uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, but that quality comes at a high price in terms of efficiency and equipment cost. Therefore, one idea is to reduce the high power quality created by the UPS and instead implement a solution that removes equipment and utilizes what is available at the entrance to the data center. Having good power quality at the data center entrance does not necessarily mean the UPS can be eliminated throughout the data center. However, it does allow for the traditional data center power configuration to be altered in new or unique ways that result in reduced total costs of ownership and/or efficiency gains while still meeting operational needs. Users’ acceptance of alternatives to traditional power quality protection will depend upon their perception of whether the solution provides the desired level of performance for considerations such as power reliability and continuous operation, power quality, and power arbitrage.

The free cooling analogy is simply a starting point. This white paper summarizes a literature search of what is known about the quality of electric power provided by utilities. Following a description and articulation of what is meant by Free Power Quality, it investigates the feasibility of using available power to minimize the number of power conversion stages in the data center power infrastructure to achieve maximum efficiency while still maintaining required reliability. It then identifies opportunities and challenges surrounding Free Power Quality.