Driving Data Center Sustainability Through Innovation

As of this year, more than 90% of S&P 500 companies had Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reports. Companies in all industries are feeling a sense of responsibility to increase operational sustainability, and customers are demanding more sustainable practices. Data centers are no exception. Providers of critical digital infrastructure are striving to lower PUE and increase efficiency. While strides have been made, efforts to reduce PUE have slowed in recent years. This begs the question: what more can we do to increase data center sustainability?

Kohler has remained dedicated to finding answers. 

Kohler and Data Center Sustainability

As a provider of reliable backup power that has traditionally been powered by diesel fuel, we’ve searched for ways to keep data centers online during unplanned outages in the most efficient ways possible. Kohler has delivered more sustainable mission-critical generators by:

  • Reducing harmful emissions with improvements to diesel engines that reduce NOx and particulate matter levels
  • Eliminating unnecessary fuel burn with annual no-load stacking
  • Optimizing generator engines to operate on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), a sustainable fuel source synthesized from waste vegetable oils or animal fats using a special hydrotreatment process

Perhaps one of the most groundbreaking ways Kohler has boosted data center sustainability is through what’s known as no load testing. Keep reading to learn more about this process and how Kohler has helped global customers increase sustainability practices with no load testing. 

No Load Generator Testing

Our research indicates backup power sources are used an average of 12 hours per year, which doesn’t amount to much time in use. In order to maintain optimal performance and to ensure generators work during those critical hours when they may be needed most, data center operators typically burn off unused fuel in the exhaust system through a process called wet stacking. 

Wet stacking typically occurs when generators frequently run with little or no load because the generator is improperly sized for the power required, or because adequate load is not available during the exercising period. Data center providers frequently have insufficient load, which results in wear and tear on their generators, not to mention the added costs and time to connect an external load bank with higher emissions and extra fuel costs. The standard solution for wet stacking has been to exercise the generators at 30% of the rated capacity on a monthly basis to burn off unused fuel or prevent buildup, which is a significant investment of time, personnel and fuel. 

Modern diesel engine designs now incorporate several technologies that enhance operating efficiency and reduce the gaps between pistons and rings that allow unburnt fuel to escape. 

How No Load Testing Boosts Sustainability

Throughout the testing process, Kohler verified that its customers can revisit old assumptions about monthly maintenance schedules to significantly reduce load-banking requirements without violating NFPA110 requirements. 

Customers using Kohler’s KD Series generators can switch to an annual load testing process. With this new annual process, customers maintain peace of mind, knowing they are well equipped to continue providing critical services in the event of an outage, and they have the added benefit of elevating their sustainability efforts.

Kohler’s research found that switching to an annual testing schedule has drastic results. In addition to saving valuable time and conserving fuel, total pollutant emissions are reduced by 82% on a pounds per year basis. By helping its customers move from the more traditional monthly testing process to annual testing, Kohler has helped customers continue to provide services its customers rely on, while reducing emissions and increasing sustainability measures. 

Check out the full case study on the no load process here or contact us anytime! 

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