On-Site Power Generation May Be the Industry’s Next Game Changer | CAPRE Denver Data Center Summit Exclusive

DENVER, CO – “Power to the Data Center Providers: Innovative and Effective Power Generation and Redundancy Solutions” was a key panel at CAPRE’s Construction, Design, Engineering Evolution and the Optimization of Hyperscale, Colocation & Enterprise Data Centers Summit in Denver last month, featuring the input of a quartet of industry leaders talking about the located trends on the ground when it comes to power.

Moderator Brian Klebash, however, asked the panelists to take an eye to the future, asking them “What is the next big gamechanger when we’re talking about powering data centers?” Carsten Baumann, Director for Strategy for IIoT & Microgrids at Schneider Electric was happy to provide his take on the question.

“Well there might be multiple things that are game-changers,” replied Baumann. “If you look at it from a power perspective, the world is becoming more decarbonized, and the energy being generated is becoming more decentralized. You see this not only on the utility side, but also on the off-take side.”

According to Baumann, these trends are true for both commercial and investment applications like manufacturing facilities and industries and hospitals as well as data centers. “On the utility scale, we see that the operational technology and IT infrastructure is becoming more intelligent and smarter, and we have ways of controlling the energy and managing that energy more efficiently,” he continued.

“So what we’re trying to do, and I guess most of the companies try to do this, is that we want to be as energy-efficient as we can be,” he stressed. “And energy efficiency is any kind of containment strategy, higher-efficiency UPS, everything we can do to be as efficient as possible should be priority number one.”

“But secondly, we’re also seeing people talking about, with regard to what we’re seeing in the data center space, What can we do with natural gas and fuel cells to generate our own power, for our own consumption?” he shared, stressing that this conversation is not necessarily about what he would call utility independency. “We don’t want to just do it on our own and be independent of the utility company – although there are certain companies out there where [this might make sense].”

Carsten Baumann, Director for Strategy for IIoT & Microgrids, Schneider Electric

For example, mused Baumann, if one were to move into an urban environment where strategically, you would have to deploy a 5 megawatt data center, but the utility company for whatever reason cannot provide the power to us, what are your options?

“We have to start looking at self-generation of electricity in the most efficient way and the most sustainable way,” he explained. “But at the same time, not only do we want to be more efficient and sustainable, we also want to be cost-effective. So if we look at many of these resources, whether it’s solar, wind, or natural gas, we’re at a cost parity and at times we are even cheaper than, the power from the utility company.”

“So the question is now, if I can produce power that is more reliable, more sustainable, and cheaper than the power you can buy from the utility company, why would I not want to do that?” he asked the room of 200+ attendees. “So this is definitely a game-changer in terms of how we can provide power to our data centers.”

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