The future of UPS for data centres? It's been with us for quite some time.

Data centres are getting larger – and that trend is set to continue. Demands for increased profitability, better operational reliability and environmental concerns are key considerations for data centre design – and these demands have a strong bearing on the design of uninterruptible and backup power supply for data centres. There is much evidence to suggest that state-of-the-art rotary systems are much better suited to the needs of modern data centres than traditional battery-based UPS systems.*

UNIBLOCK UBT+ with POWERBRIDGE PB60+ the world's largest kinetic energy storage device for UPS applications.

A key benefit of rotary UPS (RUPS) lies in its simplicity. The economic benefits and superior operational reliability of flywheel UPS systems means there is no longer a need to install tons of environmentally hazardous metals in data centres.

Static and rotary UPS compared

For a typical 9MW data centre split into 9 by 1 MW halls, the IT equipment required to provide the N+N connectivity, fault tolerance and concurrent maintainability to meet UTI Tier IV standards is dual chorded, supplied via an A and B UPS system, with each distribution system having a mains supply and a capacity generator bank.

A world first for NEXTDC and Piller - the first certification to Tier IV of an IP-Bus system

To meet these same Tier IV classification requirements, the equivalent flywheel solution is simply a rotary UPS with kinetic energy in an IP-Bus configuration, coupled with generators and distributed to the dual chorded IT equipment.

Comparing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of both systems over a period of 20 years – and taking a variety of factors into account – we can conclude that the capital cost of the Piller Flywheel Energy Storage system is slightly lower than the alternative. And in terms of operating costs it is over 30% more economical than the leading static alternative.

As with all facilities, it is ‘white space’ rather than power infrastructure which earns revenue. Maximising white space therefore, increases revenue opportunities – just as reducing space required for power infrastructure delivers reduction in building costs. Because flywheel solutions require 2.5 times less space than battery solutions there are considerable benefits to the cost/white space balance.

Reliability is also a key consideration. As there is no available database to assess the relative reliability of energy storage devices, evidence is anecdotal but no less valid. For a wet cell lead acid battery, a Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) of approximately 880,000 hours can be assumed – against a MTBT of approximately 150,000 hours for a so-called maintenance-free battery.

Battery failures can only be prevented by regular maintenance and the installation of battery monitoring systems which measure the voltage of individual cells or blocks of cells so that deviations can be signalled.

Flywheel energy storage devices on the other hand, allow for a more precise calculation of their reliability because the data from their components is almost always known.

MTBF values of up to 3.4 million hours are typical for flywheel energy storage devices. They are, therefore, quite clearly more reliable than batteries and they offer the additional advantage of low maintenance outlay.

Piller Flywheel UPS – the ideal green solution

Governments and clients are now paying close attention not only to facilities’ environmental impact, but also their sustainability. Where battery systems produce increasing amounts of hazardous waste, flywheels offer a system in which almost the entire product is recyclable. A further environmental disadvantage of battery systems is that they need to be completely replaced up to 3 times over a 20-year life.

Five key factors that make Piller’s flywheels the ideal green solution:

  • 97% energy efficiency
  • Reductions of ongoing carbon emissions
  • Reduction of pollution from wasted electricity
  • 90% less carbon produced during manufacture compared to traditional batteries
  • Permanent storage frees facilities of toxic chemicals

Further to this, flywheel systems remove the need to install, remove, and recycle thousands of pounds of batteries multiple times over a system’s life.

With Piller rotary UPS, the power supply can not only be secured with the system, installation can also be designed to reuse the heat from the system (as can be seen in the world largest Public-Private Partnership hospital in Stockholm, where Piller systems produce winter heating and hot water supply for the entire hospital complex).

The supply comprises two IP-Rings 24kV, with 5x UBTD+2250 with POWERBRIDGE in each ring. Total capacity 25MVA (22,5MW).

The new Karolinska Solna is the world's most environmentally friendly University hospital


About Active Power

Active Power designs and manufactures flywheel uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, modular infrastructure solutions (MIS), and energy storage products for mission critical applications worldwide from its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. The company was founded in 1996 and became public in 2001(NASDAQ listed); until acquired in November 2016 by Piller Power Systems Inc, the US subsidiary of Piller Group GmbH. Today, customers are served via Austin and the Piller global network of subsidiaries and service centers that support the deployment of systems in more than 50 countries. Active Power and Driven by Motion are registered trademarks of Piller Power Systems Inc.

About Piller

Piller is a world leader in power protection technology. The company builds electrical systems for mission-critical applications worldwide. Clients include many of the world's central and commercial banks, stock exchanges and other financial institutions, as well as broadcasters, airports, telecommunications networks, government departments and co-location operators.

Founded by the German engineer Anton Piller in 1909, more than a century on Piller is still headquartered and produces in Osterode and nearby Bilshausen, although today the company has subsidiaries across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia and today employs approaching 1000 people worldwide. In November 2016, Piller Power Systems Inc, the US subsidiary of Piller Group GmbH, acquired the assets and business of Active Power Inc, the US kinetic energy storage specialist.

Piller group is a division of the UK engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings plc.