Huawei Digital Power boosts the transition to green ICT

Huawei Digital Power boosts the transition to green ICT

With the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy generation, the power systems that drive critical telecoms infrastructure such as key telco sites and data centers are becoming more unstable, says Fang Liangzhou, Vice President of Huawei Digital Power.

However, in the drive for carbon neutrality, new technologies can support telcos on the road towards green ICT.

Energy consumption by telecoms operators accounts for between 1% and 2% per cent of the total energy consumption worldwide, Mr Fang told the audience at MWC2024 in Barcelona, where Huawei digital power arm was announcing new solutions for greener energy use. Hence operators can play an important role in the universal drive for carbon neutrality.

The first steps that operators can take are, from the consumer perspective, by improving site energy efficiency from around 80% to the 97%, said Mr Fang. In the case of data centers, the target should be to reduce the PUE rating (the ratio of total energy used by the data center to the energy delivered to computing equipment), from the current average of 1.5 to 1.15.

The next step an operator can take is to itself participate the power market, firstly by installing solar photovoltaics (PV) to power base stations and also data centers, since only around one or two per cent of total sites currently use PV. Huawei forecasts that by 2030 around 20% of sites should have this technology installed. Secondly, using batteries for each central office or data center in order to balance the grid can provide peak sharing, peak staggering capabilities, or greater frequency reserves.

However, changes in power generation in the grid are creating their own challenges, said Mr Fang. In the past, energy generated from fossil fuels was stable and planned according to requirements. With more renewable energy being introduced such as wind and solar power, which are governed by the weather, the grid is becoming unstable.

In terms of load, the once fixed demands of activities such as steel manufacturing or car production are increasingly being replaced by the more uncertain and unpredictable demands of electric vehicles, about 20 million of which were sold worldwide last year. This makes the grid more unstable than before.

However, virtual power plant (VPP) functionality, which can use the battery facilities already installed in around 7.5 million sites including central offices and data centers, can be used to balance the grid, explained Mr Fang.

Huawei already provides an end to end VPP solution consisting of three parts; the VPP aggregation platform which talks to the grid, the VPP Intelligent gateway, and the intelligent VPP lithium battery, which can be installed in different sites along with the other elements. Using this solution, Huawei can use all the batteries for the individual sites or use the central office battery to balance energy demand overall according to the grid environment.

The ROI for Huawei’s VPP solution is around 2 to 5 years, said Mr Fang.

Another particular challenge for data centers relates to the complex demands of AI computing which requires expanded capacity (more equipment and a larger footprint), increased reliability and higher density. In this case, Huawei provides converged power, distributed cooling and modular deployment to reduce the PUE for the data center.

The converged power system combines the input from the grid, the generator and the ups output together, and can reduce the footprint by 30% and power loss by 70% while also supporting AI protection to make the whole power system higher reliability.

Also for the data center market, Mr Fang announced the Outdoor PowerPOD, a converged power solution for outdoor use that provides a plug and play power supply for new data centers, so shortening the time to the market by almost 40%. The high-quality, scalable nature of the Outdoor PowerPOD allows a customer to increase capacity by installing Outdoor PowerPOD modules one by one as demand increases.

Finally, with cooling accounting for almost 30% of data center energy consumption, Huawei’s distributed cooling system maximizes effective cooling in a one-time heat exchange, reducing PUE to 1.15 without impacting the overall data center cooling system.

Outlining his company’s aims, Mr Fang said that the biggest difference between Huawei Digital Power and traditional energy companies is that Huawei combines digital technologies and electronics technologies to deliver innovative solutions.

“For example, we can enable PV to generate more power and reduce waste of power, and based upon the weather prediction, for example, we can plan the PV generation capacity,” Mr Fang explained. “During the daytime, maybe more electricity is generated than the demand, so we can discharge the battery. And then when there is extra electricity, we can use it to charge our batteries. So that will reduce the waste of PV power. That's an example of how we combine digital and electronics technologies to deliver more value.”


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