Are MicroTurbines Gaining Traction?

A Capstone micro turbine installed at an IBM-built data centers on the campus of Syracuse University.

A Capstone micro turbine installed at an IBM-built data centers on the campus of Syracuse University.

For most data centers, on-site power generation means backup diesel generators. But a small but growing number of facilities are turning to gas-powered microturbines with a lower emissions profile.

Capstone Turbine (CPST) today said that a Houston data center has ordered four additional C65 microturbines, bringing to 13 the total number of Capstone microturbines at the site. The unnamed facility was described as a large data center serving 50,000 employees in offices worldwide.

Last fall IBM installed 12 Capstone microturbines at its new data center at Syracuse University, which is serving as a testbed for combinng “green” technologies to achieve the highest energy efficiency.

“Data centers are a key market for Capstone,” said Darren Jamison, Capstone President and Chief Executive Officer. “With energy being one of the largest single costs for data centers, energy efficient microturbines are an ideal solution. Microturbines offer eight 9’s of reliability in common N + 1 configurations, all with less maintenance and lower cost of ownership than traditional battery-based UPS systems.”

“The (Houston) customer knows that Capstone microturbines are extremely reliable power sources and ideal for data centers,” said Jim Crouse, Capstone’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Round-the-clock clean power is essential. Because this data center’s power needs are expanding, they turned to Capstone microturbines to ensure peace of mind.”

Capstone says its Hybrid UPS is the first power system to integrate low-emission C65 microturbines directly with a dual-conversion UPS to provide power for mission-critical loads.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. Bob L

    is this me or does this not make much sense? Tubines for backup power? Small ones at that? They take minutes to start so you still need batteries. 65 kW's is pretty small. Unless you need or are going to use the heat, then I just don't get using turbines vs. typical generators.

  2. ipdrive

    Bob, good questions and points. But you have this wrong. The microturbines are not for backup power. They are primary power. The grid is backup. Multiple 65KW units are used to give N+1 reliability, to scale up to the power capacity needed. Most data centers have one or two 500kw or 1mw backup generators on site. If one of these fails during a power failure, the data center is dead. The heat is not discarded it is used to drive a chiller for air conditioning. We all know data centers need plenty of cooling and that costs big bucks. Why does this make more sense than typical generators? 1) reduced electric bills for most data centers 2) increased reliability - microturbines run 24/7 and can be taken out of service without degrading the entire network. 3) reduced maintenance costs/risks. typical generators must be started/tested every week/month and serviced , this is not necessary with MT's since they are always on. 4) HAZMAT onsite storage of diesel is not needed, unless of course you have an NG backup generator I could name a few more, but I'll leave it at that. I suggest you do some research on the product and see if it is a fit for your data center.