Japan May Prioritize Power for Data Centers

Equinix has arranged for priority deliveries of diesel fuel to ensure that its two data centers in Tokyo can continue operating through planned utility blackouts. The colocation company said Tuesday that the Japanese government is working to ensure that data centers have power so that communications services remain available across the nation.

Data center provider Equinix has arranged for priority deliveries of diesel fuel to ensure that its two data centers in Tokyo can continue operating through planned blackouts being implemented by the local utility Tokyo Electric Power. The colocation company said Tuesday that the Japanese government is working to ensure that data centers have power so that communications services remain available across the nation, which is coping with the effects of a magnitude 9 earthquake, a devastating tsunami and a nuclear emergency at damaged power plants.

"Our two data centers in Tokyo are operating as normal," said Kei Furuta, managing director, Equinix Japan. "There is no facility damage or operational impact since the earthquake happened. So far, we have not heard any news about earthquake damage or operational impact to any data center in Tokyo."

While no data centers in Tokyo were damaged, their resiliency may be tested by a series of rolling blackouts being implemented by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to cope with the loss of generating capacity at damaged nuclear plants in northern Japan. Over the weekend TEPCO announced plans to implement rolling blackouts to many cities in suburban Tokyo for three to six hours daily. The blackouts will require data centers to switch over to backup generators for extended periods of time. Access to diesel fuel to power the generators will be a key issues should the rolling blackouts persist. Equinix said it has arranged contracts that provide priority access to diesel fuel.

"The biggest concern at the moment is power disruption," said Furuta. "We have fueled the generators at our Tokyo data centers to their full capacity, which will provide emergency backup power in the event of any power disruption. We have a priority contract with our fuel supply company. We are closely monitoring the situation, but depending on future status, they could have to prioritize among the priority contractors, or in an extreme case, the government may have to prioritize the national energy to the devastated area. We do not expect an issue for fuel in the short term, but the mid to long term future is always unknown."

Significantly, Furuta said the government recognizes the important role played by data centers in keeping critical services operating in the aftermath of the disasters.

"The government (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) is working on prioritizing power and energy supply to data centers which are considered critical information and telecommunication, and we are working with them," he said.

TAGS: Asia-Pacific
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