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Comparison of Data Center Power Supply Methods: Nuclear Power Supply VS Other Power Supply

With the rapid growth of network data traffic, the power consumption of the data center as a carrier is also staggering. At the same time, with the increase in "computing power", the operating energy consumption and operating costs of data centers will also face rising concerns. Therefore, data center power supply has been mentioned as a key agenda.


Coal power generation and new renewable energy power generation technologies such as wind power, photovoltaics, hydropower, and natural gas are used for power supply in general data centers. However, a data center recently built in Russia uses power from nuclear power plants.


This Russian data center is built in the northern Russian town of Udomlya, adjacent to the Kalinin nuclear power plant. The data center with a power capacity of 80MW is owned by the Russian state-owned energy company Rosenergoatom, which owns the Kalinin nuclear power plant, so this data center will give priority to the use of electricity from the nuclear power plant. Since the Kalinin nuclear power plant can produce 4GW of electricity, it can ensure that the data center has enough power.


Nuclear energy production produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions, although nuclear fission reactors technically do not produce "renewable" energy. And "fast breeder reactors" can create higher fuel ratios. Although nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases, nuclear power is highly unpopular in the activities of green environmental groups. But scientists believe environmentalists will have to accept the need for of nuclear power to avoid climate change.


Nuclear power is suitable for base load power generation because it can operate continuously, and nuclear power generation can do something that renewable energy cannot. Because wind and solar are weather-dependent and time-limited, hydro and geothermal are continuously available.


In fact, the use of nuclear power in this data center is a means of consuming the excess power of the Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant, because the efficient power generation of the nuclear power plant sometimes cannot meet the requirements of stable production of the nuclear power plant. This is similar to the data center built in Iceland, whose role is also to consume electricity generated by excess geothermal and hydroelectric power.


It was pointed out that both uranium mining and nuclear waste disposal use energy. There are also arguments in favour of nuclear energy, as at least as a "bridge" to the smart grid, allowing renewables to be more fully developed and storage technology to provide for the duration needed. A related website conducted a poll on the Kalinin nuclear power plant, asking readers what they think about the use of nuclear power for data center power. According to the survey results, 28% of people support the use of nuclear power, and 33% support the use of solar power.


The traditional power supply of data centers is generally thermal power, but with the maturity of renewable energy power generation technologies such as wind power, photovoltaics, and hydropower, and the decline in cost, the continuous development of transmission channels and power prediction and regulation technologies, and the continuous improvement of China electricity market-oriented trading mechanism , the technical route of renewable energy supplying energy to data centers will continue to mature. Data centers using photovoltaic solutions such as Huawei, Ali, Apple, Google, Baidu... These data centers all use photovoltaic solutions.


Globally, there are existing ways to supply power to data centers with renewable energy, including self-built renewable energy power generation projects, direct purchase of green power from power generation companies, purchase of green power certificates, and electricity spot market transactions. However, China coal-based energy power structure restricts the use of renewable energy in data centers. According to estimates, in 2018, the renewable energy power supply of data centers in China accounted for 22.95% of the total electricity consumption of data centers, which was less than the proportion of renewable energy consumption in the national total electricity consumption in the same period.


Most of China data centers are located in provinces and cities where renewable energy accounts for a low proportion of electricity consumption in the whole society, such as Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and other places. In order to increase the proportion of clean energy applications in data centers, in 2019, the "Guiding Opinions on Strengthening the Construction of Green Data Centers" jointly issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other three ministries and commissions clearly stated that data centers are encouraged to directly conduct electricity transactions with renewable energy power generation companies. Purchase renewable energy green power certificates to increase the application ratio of clean energy in data centers.


Another example is the rapid development of the "digital economy" in Guizhou, China in recent years, which is inseparable from its "cool and watery" ecological environment and energy resources advantages, creating natural and excellent conditions for the layout of data centers. First, the temperature in Guizhou is moderate throughout the year, and the summer is relatively cool, which can reduce the energy consumption and cost of air conditioning in the data center. Development reduces operating costs.


The comprehensive energy utilization rate of the natural gas distributed energy system is high, and the heat-to-electricity ratio of the system output matches the cooling-electricity specific load characteristics of the terminal demand of the data center. efficiency.


In conclusion, as a typical energy system, the data center, like the energy Internet, multi-objective optimization and evaluation of a more refined and comprehensive energy system is the application of data center quality and efficiency improvement under the constraints of the "impossible energy triangle". Righteous. While considering efficient and economical operation, the power supply mode of the data center should try to achieve green operation.

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