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UPS Power Considerations: The Lithium-ion Tradeoff

Given their many advantages over alternative technologies, lithium-ion batteries are gaining in popularity as a power backup option for data centre Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems. A 2018 Bloomberg New Energy Finance report forecasted that Li-ion technology will comprise 40 percent of all data centre backup batteries by 2025, and that in the hyperscale sector, Li-ion will become the predominant battery technology, accounting for 55 percent of UPS batteries.

Compared with traditional valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) alternatives, Li-ion batteries offer greater power density, smaller size, less weight and longer operating life. They can also withstand many more charge/recharge cycles, typically more than 1,000 compared with 200-400, before losing their ability to provide effective backup power.

As a result, they occupy less space, incur lower maintenance costs and require less frequent replacement than VRLA batteries offering the user a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) over the lifecycle. This helps to offset their chief disadvantage, an initial cost premium, but even that is steadily diminishing thanks to ongoing technology development and increased manufacturing volumes.

Additionally, recent studies conducted by Schneider Electric’s Data Centre Science Centre, detailed in White Paper #229: ‘Battery Technology for Data Centers’, found that over a 10-year period, Li-ion delivered a TCO that is between 10 percent and 40 percent lower than equivalent UPS systems based on VRLA batteries.



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