Fallback biz is big

Power deficits may threaten to mar a country’s economic growth plans, but UPS-based backups can keep systems ticking

As countries’ economies are growing, power and energy requirements are growing too. This is particularly true of the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries in the region have plans for boosting power generation, its transmission and distribution (T&D).

The T&D industry in transitioning economies is accelerating. In India too, the power sector has been a focus area ever since the process of planned development began in 1950s. The Government of India is currently implementing the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Program (RAPDRP), which is aimed at IT-enabling India’s power distribution system.

Despite India being the fifth largest power producer in the world, it still faces huge power deficits, with peak power deficit of more than 10 percent. The huge demand-supply gap in India and in other developing countries has raised the market potential of UPSs, batteries and inverters.

The wide-scale adoption of IT in the country has also helped the power solutions market in the country. The servers that have proliferated over the past decade, with processing capabilities akin to those of the earlier mainframes, need uninterrupted power supplies. Power and cooling needs of a growing number of data centres continues to rise. According to a recent Robert Frances Group research report, data center power usage will be the number one infrastructure concern facing IT executives. The report which surveyed 50 Fortune 500 IT executives found that 41 percent of the respondents identified power and cooling as problems in their data centres.

Techs to suit all needs

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) systems generally provide three levels of protection— level 3, level 5 and level 9, according to UPS Power Services, an energy consulting company.

Level 3 UPSs are standby or offline designs that are intended to provide a low price solution for power failures, power sags and power surges, says the company. Utility power is provided during normal operation. Utility voltage and frequency changes are not regulated by the level 3 UPS and pass through to the equipment. When voltage or frequency changes become too severe, the level 3 UPS inverter converts DC battery power to AC power to run the equipment.

Level 5 UPSs, most commonly described as line interactive or smart-UPS, offer lineinteractive technology and provide basic power protection at mid-range prices. In addition to protection against the first three power problems— power failures, power sags and power surges—level 5 UPSs protect against sustained under-voltage and overvoltage.

Level 9 UPSs, also called on-line or double conversion UPSs, are designed to provide complete power protection. These protect against all types of power problems by continuously using the inverter to produce 100 percent clean, regulated AC power. Equipment is isolated from all types of power problems when supplied by an online double conversion UPS. Level 9 UPSs use the battery less than any other UPS technology, thus also increasing the life of the UPS battery.

Due to the proliferation of electronic devices worldwide, new international regulations are being implemented to reduce harmonic distortion caused by these devices. Compliance to these new electromagnetic compatibility standards requires that new equipment meet certain electromagnetic interference specifications. A delta-conversion online UPS meets this need. It provides reduction in harmonic distortion, energy waste reduction and increased power infrastructure utilisation.

On-line or double conversion UPss provide complete protection against all types of power problems and produce 100 percent clean power

The recent advancement in UPS technologyincludes a change from transformer based to transformer-less design, which leads to more efficient power conversion from a much smaller space. This design uses a rectifier to convert the incoming mains to DC for battery charging, then an inverter to convert back to AC to drive the critical load. During normal operation or mains failure the inverter feeds the load. If the battery is discharged or the UPS fails, the load is bypassed to raw mains.

In the transformer-based UPS, the transformer adds significantly to the size of the UPS, while the phase controlled rectifier is also bulky, and creates input harmonic distortion and power factor problems. The
transformer-less UPS produces an input power factor much closer to unity and is less load dependant than the transformer design, reducing the magnitude of the input currents, and in turn minimising the size of the cabling and switchgear.

Since a transformer-less system eliminates both the 12-pulse rectifier and transformer of the earlier design, the footprint of a 120kVA system shrinks from 1.32m2 to 0.53m2, while the weight is reduced from 1,000 kg to 370 kg, as reported by technology analyst Richard Broughton writing for Techneplatform, an online information site.

Market outlook is positive

IMS Research is positive about the longer-term growth of UPSs. According to it, the current projections show recovery to nearly doubledigit annual growth globally by 2011, owing to the ever growing demand for Web hosting and related services, telecommunication infrastructure, and digitisation in general.

According to a Frost & Sullivan study, the Indian UPS market is estimated to reach $1,316.5 million in 2014. According to IDC India, during 2009, the shipment of high-end or above-5kVA UPS systems stood at 69,000 units. The market size of power backup equipment is estimated to be around `10,000 crore .

Data centres are key growth drivers

Data centres have played a major role in the growth of the global UPS market. The data centre growth came with the dot-com boom. Organisations needed fast Internet connectivity and nonstop operation to deploy systems and to establish a presence on the Internet. Installing such equipments were not viable for many smaller companies. This led to many companies starting very large facilities, called Internet data centres, which provided businesses with a range of solutions for systems deployment and operation.

New technologies and practices were designed to handle the scale and operational requirements of large deployments. These practices eventually led to the development of data centres. A typical data centre includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communication connections, environmental controls like air conditioning and fire suppression, and security devices. Most organisations are consolidating and centralising IT resources, including data centres, which has led to a rapid growth of servers and storage. There is also an increasing trend of setting up secondary data centres for continuity and disaster recovery. Data-center management and operation is yet another trend seen in organisations to cut costs, improve efficiency, and better align IT spending with business needs and service demands.

The demand for data center space in Asia- Pacific is set to grow at a very high rate, as per Frost & Sullivan. The size of the data center services market in the Asia-Pacific region was about $8 billion in the year 2009, and is expected to grow by 14.7 percent in 2010 and by 16.4 percent in 2011, by which point it will be worth $10.68 million.

The Indian data centre market, according to a report from the consulting and data centre market specialist firm BroadGroup, is also experiencing substantial growth and will reach more than US $1.5 billion in value by 2010. Government of India has sanctioned a budget outlay of `1,623 crore for the states data centres, which are poised to become the backbone for the government to-citizen, government-to-business and government-togovernment interactions in 28 states and seven union territories.