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Could our demand for data centres have a positive effect on power?


We rely on data centres to live our day to day lives, but in doing so, these facilities kick out a lot of power which isn’t all that great for our environment. This is why WZMH Architects have devised a new concept that would harness the ‘wasted’ energy from data centres to create energy sharing opportunities for other buildings. Sharing is caring after all.

With an increase in IoT technologies, 5G, and other enhanced computing, comes the need for hardware to store all this data. Enter data centres. So essential to our modern lifestyles, that data centres are being constructed at a rate that will see them almost double globally in the next 10 years.

But with growing demand, short lifespans and huge energy needs, data centres are also a threat to the built environment’s positive environmental progress.

That’s why WZMH Architects have come up with a new concept in their Innovation Lab that would harness otherwise ‘wasted’ energy from data centres to create energy sharing opportunities for other buildings.

By co-locating residences and commercial buildings near data centres, WZMH envisions a ‘DC Microgrid-based Community’, which would see these buildings benefit from the sharing of sustainable and reliable power – while also providing options to reduce data centres’ carbon footprint.

How the concept works

Data centre generators are tested once per month – but this energy is not actually used to support the building’s electricity requirements and therefore, is being wasted.

WZMH proposes that by using DC microgrid technology and a battery storage system, this wasted energy from data centres could be harnessed to power nearby residential and commercial buildings.

Buildings constructed around the data centres will benefit from a free, 100% reliable, self-sustaining energy resource. This concept is not only a green energy solution and a lower cost alternative to the traditional power plant, but it is also a more resilient source of power in the face of the ever-increasing climate events that frequently disrupt energy services.

WZMH’s research indicates that in a data centre with eight, three-megawatt diesel generators that are tested for one hour a month, a DC Microgrid can create green energy that is the equivalent of one day of power per week for a residential building containing 125 units.

How data centres could power a ‘DC Microgrid’ community

A microgrid can be broadly defined as a localised network of electric loads and power sources, with the ability to function independently or in conjunction with a larger grid system.

In this context, a DC microgrid represents an alternative power system in a building, where we can power our equipment with various ‘Green Energy Producers’ (GEP), including solar, wind, and even innovative sources like exercise bikes, elevators and use of thermoelectric generators. 

Buildings typically operate with AC infrastructure. Designing buildings and communities to ‘push back’ the AC infrastructure and create a ‘grid’ to allow the plug and play of the DC systems is what will drive the establishment of the future DC Microgrid Community.

For the purpose of this concept, the DC Microgrid Community includes battery storage systems (something that is a key component in mission critical buildings like data centres). These battery storage systems along with renewable energy sources combined with access to ‘recycled’ energy from the data centres is what makes up the ‘power plant’ for the DC Microgrid Community – only this power plant is green!

The Gen-e-BLOK is essentially a storage system for the recycled energy made out of an electrical connection to the data centre generators. The wasted energy from the generator tests is deployed into the GEN-e-BLOK, which also has a system of concrete weights.

As the concrete weights are raised and lowered, they regenerate energy through the motors. This energy is then fed to an adjacent battery plant for storage and redeployed as needed to the neighbouring buildings.

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