Data centers are cornerstones of modern digital living. They often also are critical infrastructure, essential support for emergency response, health and governance. These data centers must weather natural and manmade disasters and still provide core services. To reduce outages from lost power or water supplies, builders and owners of mission-critical data centers traditionally bank on redundancy - uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), backup generators and cooling systems. But redundancy in these systems can increase energy costs dramatically and still provide no guarantee of enduring operation under extreme conditions. True resilience against disaster demands creativity, flexibility and new resources that, coincidentally, also can make the information economy more sustainable.
Funded by the Federal Energy Management Program of the U.S. Department of Energy, Berkeley Lab is exploring ways in which data centers can be built and operated for resilience, to withstand and recover smoothly in the face of extreme events.
The first effort in this initiative was a review of the application of demand response and microgrids to enhance resilience in data centers. These two technological and operational strategies are fairly new to data centers, yet they add flexibility and capabilities for enhancing resilience, cost efficiency and sustainability. For an overview of these technologies in data centers, see our Dec. 3, 2019 webinar.