Keele University Deploys Ultra Efficient Data Centre Power Protection that Supports Sustainability Mission
Data Centre Sustainability Project Of The Year
Located in rural Staffordshire, England, Keele University is recognised as one of Europe’s most sustainability-driven universities. Driven by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the university’s mission supports the vision of a more sustainable world. That mission is pursued through concrete actions. Since 1990, the student population has tripled, and the campus area has expanded while simultaneously decreasing total carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions. Over the last six years, the university has invested more than £1.2 million into carbon reduction and is investing more every year. In fact, the university has pledged to attain carbon neutrality by 2030.Keele University has also been globally recognised for establishing a deep-rooted sustainability culture. For the fourth consecutive year, the university has been named among the top 40 universities in the world for sustainability (UI Green Metric World Rankings, 2020). The university was also the recipient of the Green Gown Global Sustainability Institution of the Year award in 2021.
Besides hosting the first UK trial of hydrogen blending within a gas network and testing new smart energy technologies, the university is now producing its own renewable energy on campus. Recently commissioned solar and wind farms are now operational and feed power into a campus mini-grid. From a power distribution perspective, the campus operates like a small town. Besides the traditional student accommodations, academic research facilities, and classrooms that require power, a post office, a hairdresser, gyms, grocery stores, cafés, and restaurants also make up part of the university’s power load.
As part of Keele University’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030, the university’s Information & Digital Services (IDS) team,, has been working to make its on-site IT infrastructure as energy-efficient and low-carbon as possible. Keele operates two on-site data centres which support on- and off-campus users to deliver teaching, research, and professional services. The two data centres consume nearly 300 kilowatts (kW) of power per year between them. In the effort to modernise the university’s data centres, the IDS team turned to long-time partner Vertiv to help boost energy efficiency.Since the existing UPS systems were aging, the IDS team asked Vertiv to recommend new units that would be both more energy efficient, as well as scalable and space efficient. The Vertiv team recommended the Vertiv™ Liebert APM600 with a 400 kVA capacity in a N+1 configuration. The new UPS is based on a reliable, double-conversion power topology that uses an efficient transformer-free design. The new design results in efficiencies of 96% that can be enhanced to 99% using Eco Mode operation. The new UPS also delivers more capacity in a smaller footprint. Each of the new units utilises a modular and scalable configuration with ancillary cabinets designed to save space and cost.
Keele University buys renewable power from the local grid and now will have its own wind and solar power (including energy storage) to supply the data centre and university power loads. In fact, with the construction of their new data centre set to open in May this year named Innovation Centre 7 (IC7), Keele is believed to be the only university in the UK to be building a data centre using 100% renewable energy. Besides hosting the new data centre, the building will be home to the university’s new Digital Society Institute, a collaborative centre focused on data and digital technology which will allow companies in the business, health, and cultural sectors to innovate and expand in a competitive and dynamic business environment. The site will utilise high-performance computing infrastructure to conduct artificial intelligence and big data analysis research. The new facility will generate up to 50% of the university’s campus electricity requirements, and all of that power will come from renewable sources.