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Data center operators should prepare for disruption as demand for energy outgrows supply - Aggreko

2021 / 06 / 08


Data centers across Asia Pacific should be ready to face possible energy supply issues, as lead times for sufficient grid capacity grow longer.

According to a new report by Aggreko, data center investments across the region are putting pressure on the supporting infrastructure, raising questions about whether supply can keep up with demand.

Aggreko cites a report from Digital Realty and Eco-Business, which states that the Asia Pacific data center market size for colocation facilities could reach US$28 billion by 2024. With this growing market and IT loads going online, local power grids must be able to support hundreds of megawatts of additional demand.

Aggreko’s Asia head of data centers, Ravindra Bapat, says there are data center opportunities, but there are also many challenges. 

“Grid network reliability, power availability and last mile connectivity is known to be inconsistent in many regions, particularly for all up-and-coming markets such as Tokyo, Jakarta and Mumbai.

“Adding to the challenge is the location of such data centres, with many increasingly positioned inside the major metropolitan locations and, as such posing difficulties for local utilities to upgrade the infrastructure due to space constraints and huge cost.”

Bapat believes that operators and developers need to understand gaps in infrastructure, and they must also provide a way to bridge those gaps to deal with power supply challenges and tight project delivery timelines.

Renewable energy has also been a hot topic for data center operators across the world, such as Google.

The report notes that APAC is an energy-hungry region that accounts for more than half of the global energy consumption. This will grow as more data centers come online.

“Data centre developers and operators are facing pressure to make promises of utilising more renewable energy. The adoption of solar and wind power is mixed across the region and, given the significant differences of grid reliability across the different countries and data centre hotspots, incorporating a reliable system is going to be difficult,” notes Bapat.

The report suggests that operators should consider combined heat and power (CHP) technology, and both modular and mobile solar PV and microgrids. 

Operators should also consider flexible and temporary on-site power generation systems.

“Flexible on-site power can mitigate the delays of upgrading electricity infrastructure, providing the necessary power to become operational as soon as possible without the investment on permanent Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) infrastructure. It has proven its worth across a number of major data centre projects in Europe and North America, allowing projects to be delivered despite significant grid connection delays,” concludes Bapat.

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