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Li-ion UPS batteries offer lower TCO

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Schneider Electric aims to capitalise on its first-to-market advantage in lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries, as Bloomberg predicts big gains in data centre UPS systems.
“Key to this growth is the lower total cost of ownership,” explains Riaan de Leeuw, vice-president: IT division at Schneider Electric Anglophone Africa. “Since our launch in 2016, we have been publishing the many benefits that li-ion technology brings to centralised data centre UPS systems. These are now endorsed by the Bloomberg Report, which indicates that li-ion technology will snatch 40% of market share in just eight years.”
Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that in 2025, Li-ion batteries will account for 5.6GWh of data centre battery backup capacity, as compared to 8.3GWh for traditional valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries.
There is still a significant proportion of the market that will still continue to use VRLA, as the technology improves. However, li-ion will gain even more share in hyperscale data centres — those owned by Internet Giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google — where wringing every bit of energy and space efficiency means huge savings. According to the report, Li-ion is expected to account for about 55% of backup capacity in such data centres in 2025.
“While VRLA has much lower upfront cost today, lithium-ion batteries will experience significant cost reductions, driven by sizeable ramp-up in demand in the coming decade, much of which will be for electric vehicles,” adds de Leeuw. “This cost reduction and increasing familiarity with the use of lithium-ion batteries for backup in data centres will help ramp up adoption in this timeframe.”
Schneider Electric has identified four major benefits for data centre operators:
* Double the battery life as compared to VRLA and simplified maintenance.
* Improved use of data centre real estate due to a 50% to 75% reduction in secure power footprint, paving the way for more IT equipment.
* Improved management capabilities, including embedded management at the cell, module and cabinet levels, leading to predictable, consistent performance and battery health.
* Reduced data centre cooling requirements, because Li-ion batteries take up less space and, unlike traditional VRLA batteries, can operate at higher temperatures without sacrificing battery life.
“All of these benefits help to reduce costs in one way or another, adding up to a lower total cost of ownership for li-ion UPS batteries over time, as compared to VRLA,” de Leeuw says. “That is what has data centre owners standing up and taking notice of li-ion technology.
“To date, the group has these systems installed in more than 20 sites, totalling more than 10MWh of capacity. The li-ion installations range from large companies, including colocation providers and financial services companies with enterprise-level data centres, to industrial applications and server rooms. Clearly the technology is applicable to a wide range of situations.”