Data center colocation has become an essential to the growth of Internet services. A colocation, or “colo,” provides rental space for servers and other computing equipment by the rack, cabinet, cage, or room. Businesses choose colo rather than building their own data centers to save on capital expenses as well as the cost of maintaining and updating a large computing facility.
Service providers seek locations with a combination of good infrastructure and fiber optics along with low real estate costs. Atlanta fits that bill, and by 2014 there were more than thirty major colos in the metropolitan area.
Quality Technology Services (QTS) is the third-largest data center provider in the United States and has two facilities in Georgia. When QTS built out its 370,000-square-foot data center and office building in Suwanee, Yancey Bros. Co. provided critical power systems encompassing 6x2250kW Cat generators, Cat switchgear and a unique and highly efficient 11,000kW of Caterpillar flywheel-based uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
“Computers are very energy hungry,” says Romey Schwieterman, the Yancey sales engineer who helped design the critical power and UPS system. “Plus, we’re providing backup power for climate control in the data center. Floor space in a data center is a huge premium. So you want to get as much power as you can in as little space as possible.”
Yancey was able to get enough Cat generators, switchgear and 11 megawatts of UPS systems into 5,000 square feet of existing building space, in large part because they relied on flywheel energy storage instead of batteries for UPS.
A 600-pound flywheel spins at 7,700 rpm in a low-friction, near vacuum environment. If there is an interruption in electrical service or a power fluctuation, the flywheel UPS continues to spin and instantly picks up the load, so that electrical power is uninterrupted. The flywheel UPS will continue to provide power until the generators are running and can take over in an orderly fashion.
Flywheel UPS technology requires only one-half the space needed by batteries while providing the same amount of power output at a considerably higher level of efficiency—a significant savings. And unlike batteries, the flywheel does not wear out or have to be replaced.
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