2 Megawatt Generator Redux
We get a lot of traffic each day from google searches for “2 megawatt generator”, which links to a post from 2008 when we installed our first generator.
That was just about 2 years ago, so I thought it might be time to revisit the topic.
First, since that initial install we have also followed up with a second, redundant 2MW generator install. So we have a total capacity of 4MW of backup generation capability, though the design is such that each generator will run at half load unless a failure in one results in the need for the other to pickup full load. This is truly 2N redundant fashion – the best there is.
Second, having the generators commissioned in this fashion allows us to do some unique things when it comes to testing. Like all SAS70 compliant data centers, our testing is done on a regular schedule. We are able to test both the switching logic and the generator load capabilities independently. This means that during a time when we would switch the facility over to generator power, we can do so with just 1/2 of the facility, keeping the other half on utility power. Ultimately, this means that if any issue were to arise during this transition, that the redundant portion of the facility is still operating on utility power, having never switched to generator, providing more predictability and reliability for the end customer.
And third, having multiple generators means that we can perform routine maintenance on them without impacting the facility. For example, when performing an oil change on a generator, we need to ensure it does not start during that time. With a single generator, if the power went out, we would have no way to start the generator quickly. However, with redundant generators we always have a generator there ready to run during the most critical times.
One thing that has bugged me since that initial blog was written was the statistic around how many homes could be powered by a 2MW generator. This helps give a sense of just how much power 2MW is, but the number tossed around varies greatly. I sat down to do the math properly this time, to hopefully achieve a “true” stastic.
According to the DOE: In 2008, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,040 kWh, an average of 920 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. At 920kWh per month, this averages to 1.27kW at a given moment. So the average home draws an average of 1.27kW. 2MW is 2000kW, so dividing 2000 by 1.27 we get 1574.8 homes. This doesn’t take into account peaks, just an average, so it would be unrealistic to think you could connect a 2MW generator to 1575 homes and it would work just fine, but on average that’s how it works out.
With 2 generators now, and the electrical yard set for an expansion of 8, ultimately Data Cave’s power generation capabilities would be equivalent to 12,600 homes. The latest census information indicates there are 15,985 homes in Columbus Indiana, where Data Cave is located, so we are just a bit shy of powering all of the homes in the city with that kind of generation.
By the way, did you know Data Cave’s staff services its own generators? Our facilities crew is trained in routine maintenance and support of large generators, meaning we don’t have to rely on an outside vendor to provide support. Contact us to learn about our top notch facility and how we can provide your organization with high reliability and uptime.