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Installing Polaris datacentre generators: Photos

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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By Suzanne Tindal, News Editor on
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1 of 4 Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet

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.

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2 of 4 Paul Riley

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.

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3 of 4 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.

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4 of 4 Paul Riley

The building could structurally house ten of the generators, seven metres in length and three metres in height, although at present only six are being installed — four on line and two as backup.

The number of generators will provide 99.9999 per cent availability to the data centre.

Ten generators would use around 200,000 litres of fuel a year, according to Andrea.

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