Installing Polaris datacentre generators: Photos

Installing Polaris datacentre generators: Photos

Summary: Yesterday workers installed six 22 tonne diesel power generators into one of Australia's largest datacentres prior to prepare it for its official opening early next year.

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  • The $220 million Polaris datacentre in Springfield, Queensland, will house enterprise organisations including Suncorp, NEC and Fujitsu together with Queensland government departments and councils, including its service provider CITEC. It has 6,999 square metres of raised floor space.

    Standing before the building is Mike Andrea, datacentre design specialist and director of Strategic Directions, which carried out the City of Springfields master ICT plan.

  • The generators, which spring into action in the case of mains failure, were lifted in to the fifth floor. Raising four took three and a half hours.

    (Credit: Paul Riley)

  • The generators can start up in three seconds. For the time between failure and startup, kinetic energy from flywheels spun up using mains power is used to keep the generator running. From mains failure the flywheel gives 16 seconds of power.

    Using a flywheel removes the requirement of batteries for the time until generators start up, saving the data centre 300 square metres of floor space, Andrea said.

    "People might say 'Holy hell' what if [the generator] doesn't start," he said, referring to the short 16 seconds of time the flywheel gives. However, the datacentre had two more generators than it needed, he said, and added that if generator genuinely wouldn't start, the ten minutes provided by the batteries datacentres normally have wouldn't be enough anyway.

    When there was a brown out, or a time when less mains power was available than usual, energy from the flywheel could be used to make up the difference, Andrea said. If the brown out lasted longer than seven or eight seconds, it was treated like a black out, with generators springing into motion.

    (Credit: Paul Riley)

Topics: Government, Data Centers, Government AU

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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12 comments
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  • Out of interest...

    Why put the generators on the 5th floor rather then the ground floor?
    anonymous
  • 5th floor

    Yeah, I wondered about that... the only thing I could think of was in case of fire -- it'd be easier to isolate the fire on the top floor instead of the lower floors.

    But it seems like a lot of effort to build the fifth floor (and the floors below it) strong enough to hold 220 tonnes worth of generators...
    anonymous
  • carbon neutral

    why not solar? must be pretty sunny in QLD most of the year round. 6 x 22 tonne diesel generators are going to be doing some heavy greenhouse gas damage.
    anonymous
  • just to add

    715g of carbon per litre
    x 200,000 litres

    = 143 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year.

    that's equivalent to around 18,000 homes.

    happy to be corrected on the maths
    anonymous
  • carbon

    The generators only run on a power outage and that is likely to be 0.005 of the operational time. A gernerator for News Corp in Adelaide was pulled out after 25 years with less than 60 operational hours.
    anonymous
  • Some more BS!

    All legit questions and comments in this blog. These guys dont even know how a rotary UPS works, leave alone a data centre! And as for this guy being a data centre design specialist and the company writing the ICT Masterplan for Springfield, what a load of BS! This is the first data centre they have ever done. Additionally, this will be a classic energy-inefficient data centre with a poor PUE in excess of 1.7.....millions more kgs of CO2 to the atmosphere. Very responsible design!
    anonymous
  • Out of interest, 5th floor

    Well hot air rises, you don't want to add to computer heat, so put it near the top so its easy to get rid of.

    Solar only works for the 'day', not very effective for power backup, and solar couldn't generate anywhere near the amount of power these guys would need.
    anonymous
  • BS 4 sure

    ... because he is an specialist that explains why there is so much glass...

    ... being for the servers to have nice panoramic views at least until cyclone Murphy starts whipping up debris!
    anonymous
  • Older lessons forgotten

    Yes, the 200,000 litres/year of potential fuel use was presumably a furphy from the reporter, not the designer... Unless they are planning on SE-Qld going truly Third World. Better to mention if they were trying to 'sync' the 50Hz of the various generators (the bane of power generation). Presumably each generator drives only its own circuits, and if one generator does not start do they live 'flick across' (load transfer) to another (spike arrestors needed etc).

    But with any reasonable amount of fuel stored on upper stories of a glass building, biggest worry might be this generating of publicity around what is stored where. The original Comm Bank data centre was built in Sydney CBD on the corner of Liverpool and Castlereagh Sts in the 1970s. (newer Burwood data centre is late-1990s). The CBD design pre-dated 9/11 by 25years but nevertheless had concrete walls on all data centre floors, with the design spec being to tolerate a bazooka attack (the then most-powerful likely attack from outside). It seems that the glass curtain walls are a step-backward. Still, it must make any other tenants/staff in the building 'relaxed and comfortable' to know that there is a lot of diesel fuel above their heads. And of course the main risk is 'internal', where most unstable disgruntled employees can only waive magnets near tapes etc... They'll need good psych vetting, as you wouldn't want anyone in that building 'going postal' (ref to prior disgruntled employees causing mayhem).
    anonymous
  • Re Older lessons

    Syncing multiple generators is not that hard with modern controls - it's done routinely right across the country.

    I also doubt the bulk diesel store is on the 5th floor - most likely nothing more than day tanks (which even the CBA facility on Liverpool St had on it's upper floors).
    anonymous
  • Older lessons forgotten...

    The glass you are seeing in these photo's is from the office tower next door. The data centre itself has minimal glass - the foyer so that the security personnel can see out, the boardroom and a limited amount of tenant office space. Behind the glass the technical floors are protected by thick concrete walls.
    Level 5 has day tanks for diesel only - wouldn't make sense to have the main storage facility on the roof. Similarly teh 1.5 megalitres of water stored for cooling is NOT on teh roof!
    anonymous
  • Polaris DC a High Density Joke

    The biggest joke about this DC is that you can only get 4KWatts per Rack, on the floors.
    The DC managers (not named here) have forced tenants to only use 4KWatts per rack, in the standard areas ( 2 isles along each length of the DC) and 8 Watts in the High Density Areas (a centre isle, 1/3 the width of the DC floor)

    What this equates to is 1 new HP Blade Centre per rack in the standard areas, if if you're lucky 3 in every 2 racks in the HD areas.

    So much for modern, you're better off purchasing a DC in a shipping container from Google or others! At least you can get the density in the Racks that you would expect for their Premium cost.
    anonymous