Texas data centres keep the lights on amid Storm Uri
Severe winter storms are affecting millions across Texas and Oklahoma, with both states currently experiencing some of the most prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures in their history.
In Texas, 20 people have already died from the cold, and Storm Uri has wreaked havoc with the state’s utilities. Nearly half of the residents of Texas do not have access to clean running water, with severe rationing taking place across cities like Kyle, where officials stated that clean water should "only be used to sustain life at this point."
Widespread power outages have swept across the state in the past few days, with as many as 2mn people being left without power on Monday. Although service is slowly being restored over the week, hundreds of thousands are still in the dark.
On Wednesday, grid disruption in the city of Austin brought the city’s data centre offline, and other operators throughout the region have reported being affected.
Keeping the lights on
Many operators in this area, including hyperscaler Digital Realty - which recently relocated its global headquarters - Equinix and QTS, have managed to maintain their services during the past week, using backup generators to weather the storm.
On Wednesday, QTS President and CEO Chad Williams said that, “We’re keeping our people safe and keeping our customers engaged and getting through this together.”
Erich Sanchack, Executive Vice President for Operations at Digital Realty, , saying that “Despite the extremely challenging weather conditions in Texas, Digital Realty has maintained operations for our data centre customers in Dallas, Houston and Austin. We have successfully transferred some loads to onsite generator power, while maintaining 100% uptime for critical and essential digital services as per our designs. By running generators at select sites, we have also been able to help reduce the overall power load on the ERCOT grid system.”
Digital Realty’s own supplies of backup diesel fuel are so well stocked that the company has been distributing it to other operators in the state in order to help keep the lights on.
"We have provided support by redirecting fuel supplies to other customers in Texas who have data center capacity outside the Digital Realty portfolio of properties," added Sanchack, noting that, "From a community outreach perspective, Digital Realty has also offered up the use of one of our data centre spaces in Lewisville, TX to provide potential overflow facilities to the city for families who lack access to power and heat."
Sustainability and PUE reduction in data centres
The data centre industry is at a crossroads. As demand for colocation, hyperscale cloud, and edge solutions continues to rise, operators and enterprises are also facing up to the reality that sustainable design and operating practice are a mission critical component of the modern data centre. Going green is no longer an optional extra.
Data centres are becoming an increasingly critical foundation that underpins the modern world, and the demand for them continues to grow exponentially each year. Data centres must remain in constant operation in order to provide the services for which customers depend on them.
This mission critical need, combined with the sector-wide push towards reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint throughout the industry, is making the search for innovative evaporative media solutions that keep systems running at peak efficiency an equally mission critical priority.
The two main sources of energy consumption in a modern data centre are its IT equipment and the cooling infrastructure used to keep that equipment cool. A 2017 study found that energy consumption as the direct result of cooling data centre IT equipment can amount to over 40% of the total energy consumption in a facility. From air cooling to liquid and evaporative chillers, data centre operators, finding the right cooling solution for your facility is a top-of-mind goal for any data centre operator.
Portacool: keeping it Kuul
Based in Center, Texas, Portacool is a portable evaporative cooling solutions firm that has been pushing the boundaries of mission critical infrastructure cooling technology since it entered the market in 1990.
Through constant embodiment of its five brand pillars - Safety & Liability, Total Cost of Ownership, Productivity & Performance, Sustainability & Social Responsibility, and Life & Comfort Enhancing Solutions - Portacool has grown steadily over the past 30 years, continually reinforcing its reputation for industry-leading cooling solutions.
Portacool’s solutions have been successfully applied throughout the agricultural and horticultural, manufacturing, industrial, business, entertainment, sports, home, and hobby industries - “anywhere cooling is needed and traditional air conditioning is impractical or cost prohibitive.”
The company’s sub-brand, Kuul, is Portacool’s answer to the growing need for reliable, sustainable cooling solutions in the data centre sector. Portacool manufactures three series of evaporative media – Kuul Control, Kuul Vitality and Kuul Comfort. Kuul Control is used in data centres, power generation and HVAC systems. Kuul Vitality is utilised primarily in the horticulture, poultry and swine industries. Kuul Comfort is exclusively made for usage in Portacool-branded portable evaporative coolers.
Kuul can help data centre operators lower their PUE dramatically, increasing the environmental sustainability of their facilities significantly as a result of its rigid evaporative media solutions.