We have all heard about Japan’s power crisis, and possible load reduction mandates for their data center industry due to power shortages, created by the shutdown of seven Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear reactors and several thermal-power stations. The question being asked now is, will the data center industry handle almost certain blackouts throughout the country and how do they plan on doing it?
Although 70 percent of the country’s data centers are located in Tokyo, an area relatively far from the earthquake’s epicenter, there are heavy concerns about the distribution of power to these facilities now that power shortages are expected to increase. TEPCO stated on June 11th:
â€œIn the event that an unplanned outage such as excessive continuous operation in old plants and a sudden increase of power demand, there is a possibility to affect a stable power supply. In order to maintain the policy of avoiding planned blackouts, we will steadily implement installation of additional power capacity as we have planned, and we continuously do our best efforts to secure capacity.
Japan’s Data Center Council has been busy putting together a coalition, in which data center operators can participate, in order to avoid rolling blackouts that are estimated to cut power for about three hours a day. Their solution is that each member of the coalition will experience less frequent power cuts. During these scheduled outages the obvious choice of power supply will be generator backup, and that is where the problem lies. Most of the generators, unless providing power for Teir 3 or Tier 4 data centers, are not designed for long-term usage and will need costly maintenance in order to avoid failure. Euro-Diesel business development manager Jack Kaspers said, “The generators will have a limitation on operation an annual basis of 300 operating hours, after this they will not be able to operate at full power.”
With Japan’s increasing demand for cloud and other service, can Japan solve this power predicament? Or will there be a sudden spike of demand in other markets from data center users seeking capacity from more stable environment? Time will tell.