Fueling Up: Why Data Centers Should Care About HVO

In the data center industry, backup power generated by diesel engines remain standard, but the need for sustainable fuels is pressing. With both carbon footprint and efficiency in mind, should Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) be on the radar for data centers?

The Data Center In Development

Currently, HVO may seem like a minor matter: its production represents less than a tenth of the total biodiesel market. As a new option, HVO met reluctance among users who are unsure of implementing an unknown commodity. However, the HVO market is on the verge of a major shift. At the least, it has the potential to change the complexion of the biodiesel sector. At most, it will explode the sector altogether. In the next few years HVO usage is expected to triple, or even quadruple.

Learn more about how HVO works with A Beginner’s Guide to HVO

What does this mean for data centers? In the big picture, the world is wrestling with an energy crisis and data centers will be part of the conversation whether they like it or not. Isn’t the answer supposed to be hydrogen fuel cells? In the long-term future, perhaps. Today, though, data centers have an inherent imperative to explore renewables, both in normal operations and when backup energy is required. And in the effort to secure a diversified set of energy sources, renewable fuels are at the forefront.

Bio-based fuels have emerged as an alternative to bio-based diesel, but the challenge has come with developing a fuel that won’t require major changes to engines or exhaust systems. Perhaps more importantly, they need to address logistics: how can the fuel be delivered, handled, and stored? The best answer may have already arrived in the form of HVO. For data centers, HVO represents one of the cleanest fuels on the market and the best option for a renewable diesel alternative—and many have already taken notice. Earlier this year Compass announced it will move to HVO for all onsite generators, and Kao Data has already done so. Equinix has begun implementing HVO usage, as has Digital Realty and maybe the biggest player of all, Microsoft.

Making The Switch to HVO

The main reason data centers are adopting HVO? Emissions. Overall carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced up to 90% compared to conventional diesel. Other emissions—like sulfur, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter—are also greatly reduced. Cleaner emissions will only become more important in the future, as legislators become increasingly strict on companies decarbonizing their operations.

Luckily for data centers, the changeover to HVO can be quick and easy with generators like Kohler’s. Not only is a special generator not required, no modification or upgrade of any kind is needed to start using HVO. It can be used pure or blended in any combination, with no changes to any warranty conditions, software, or maintenance schedule. Everything is already fully approved for implementation right away.

If the search for a replacement renewable energy source, HVO appears ready to emerge as a significant market solution. The benefits to data center backup power are considerable, and the ability to use existing generators make the switch easy. If the trend continues, HVO may not just be on the data center radar, it might be right in the middle of it.

To learn more about HVO and mission critical applications click here.

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