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Enterprise Energy Management 1: Q&A With Vito Savino of Lineage Power
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December 16, 2009

Enterprise Energy Management 1: Q&A With Vito Savino of Lineage Power

By Shidan Gouran (ICP), Co-founder, Intelligent Communications Partners

Lineage Power is one of the most well-respected names for power supply and power conversion products tailored specifically for the telecom industry. The company’s traditional offering really amounts to AC-to-DC converters, backup batteries for data centers and other similar products.

The reason we have invited Lineage to the Smart Grid Summit is because it’s one of the very first in the industry to accept the notion that electric power management for data centers should be about data centers communicating and negotiating with the grid. Their offering and value proposition is no longer limited to how efficiently their converters can transform AC to DC, but also how efficiently their converters, power supplies and the data centers themselves can collaborate and participate in the energy market and communicate with the grid as part of a holistic system. They are continuing their leadership in this area by moving to explore open standards like openADR.
In short, since Lineage is one of the first to bring the Smart Grid to telco infrastructure and data center power management, I’m sure there is much we can learn from them at the Summit. Now on to the interview with Vito Savino, who is in charge of product development at Lineage.
Shidan Gouran: Can you describe Lineage Power, the company history and your current offerings?
Vito Savino: Lineage Power, a Gores Group company, traces its heritage to Western Electric, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies Bell Laboratories, and Tyco Electronics. Today, the company delivers intelligent power conversion solutions carrying on the tradition of patented innovation with energy-efficient AC/DC and DC/DC embedded power, telecom energy systems, and custom power solutions backed by local field expertise in 25+ locations worldwide. Designed for decades of non-stop operation, our high-availability DC power plants enable voice, video, and data communications while assuring investment protection, total system efficiency, and significantly reduced total cost of ownership.
SG: What are the energy demands of the ICT industry today and how is the anticipated explosion in video content and rich communications going to effect energy consumption in the next 3 years?
VS: The global computing and communications industry is estimated to consume as much as 2 percent of the world’s electricity supply. That is enough electricity to power New York for an entire year. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States consumes nearly 25 percent of global electrical capacity. Every 1 percent improvement in overall telecom energy efficiency delivers $42 million in savings industry wide in North America.
In the next three years, the widespread availability of mobile voice, video and data services on the iPhone (News - Alert), Blackberry and other smartphone devices will drive wireless operators to deploy massive amounts of additional capacity to support the consumer’s insatiable desire for additional content. An iPhone consumes 40 times the bandwidth of a traditional cell phone and 10 times the bandwidth of a Blackberry. AT&T is spending billions to upgrade their network to support iPhone users. Every network upgrade and every new cell site increases electrical demand.
SG: How much efficiency gains can an ISP or carrier expect with energy management solutions similar to Lineage’s Total Efficiency offerings?
VS: Lineage Power’s Total Efficiency architecture was designed to help carriers achieve their sustainability objectives through investments that deliver one- to two-year payback periods while protecting existing investments with full backwards compatibility. We estimate carriers can reduce energy loss and associated cooling requirements up to 70 percent by deploying telecom DC power systems with efficiency approaching 97 percent. The potential savings in kWh terms are enough to power San Francisco for an entire year using 48V DC technology proven to be safe, reliable and cost-effective.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates savings of more than $1.1 billion through the Green Grid effort, targeting 2011 for a 10.7 billion kWh reduction in data center power consumption. Verizon (News - Alert) is currently spending over $1 billion per year cooling their network.
As the telecom industry continues to deploy more datacenters to service messaging and video subscribers, evaluating the power architectures for these datacenters becomes relevant. The Green Grid (News - Alert) has studied in detail the efficiency of a variety of existing and proposed datacenter power architectures. The most efficient choice is the 48V DC architecture, which Lineage has proven to be safe, reliable and cost-effective for decades. As a specific efficiency example, a traditional AC UPS architecture is only 79 percent efficient and is designed to deliver minutes of runtime. In contrast, the Lineage 48V DC energy system is 92+ percent efficient and designed to deliver 8 hours of runtime. The IEEE (News - Alert) has also stated that DC energy systems are 20 times (orders of magnitude) more available than AC UPS systems. As datacenter power bills exceed $10+ million per month, the savings opportunities are significant.
Telecom power systems in the past 7-10 years have delivered 92 percent efficiency, while legacy ferro resonant systems still in widespread use today are only 85 percent efficient. Lineage Power TE solutions reduce the energy loss and associated cooling requirements by 50-70 percent as loss is reduced from 15 percent or 8 percent to a mere 3 percent. Equally important is that the TE solutions deliver peak efficiency across a wide range of operating load conditions whereas legacy ferro technologies may only be 75 percent efficient (25 percent loss) under typical operating loads.
The Lineage Power approach is end-to-end across hardware, software and services. Lineage can also go beyond the telecom power system to impact the efficiency of the equipment that plugs into it through our AC/DC front-end power supplies and DC/DC board mounted power modules.
The ROI on a TE architecture investment can be clearly documented through our Cost of Power calculator. We take an integrated approach that leverages existing investments by avoiding forklift upgrades and assuring backwards compatibility. State and Federal tax incentives for sustainable energy sources can also accelerate payback periods.
Based on a 6000A system with 5000A load, Lineage can deliver nearly $92,000 in savings and a 12 month ROI. Based on a 600A system with 200A load, Lineage can deliver over $6,300 in savings and a nine-month ROI. What you’ll find is that the OPEX to power and cool an aging ferro plant is larger than the CAPEX retrofit cost to deploy modern switch mode rectifiers with efficiency approaching 97 percent.
SG: What’s interesting to me is that unlike many of your traditional competitors, Lineage is also diving head first into the opportunities enabled by the Smart Grid. Two related examples are your Eco Priority Source and Smart Grid Demand Response offerings. Can you describe both of these?
VS: The telecom industry is used to addressing priority loads. Lineage Power has shifted our attention to priority sources with some intellectual property we call Eco Priority Source™. Leveraging our controller/rectifier capabilities, Eco Priority Source prioritizes sustainable energy sources before the utility grid or generator sources. In other words, the particular site will draw power from the solar, wind, water or fuel cell source before drawing on the utility or generator source. Eco Priority Source also allows for the alternative sources to supplement the grid, or other traditional energy sources, in real time, to provide the greenest source possible. The investments in these sustainable energy sources typically qualify for federal and/or state tax incentives that can cover up to 30 percent of the system costs.
Lineage has also developed what we call Smart Grid Demand Response capabilities. The Lineage Total Efficiency architecture will interact with Smart Grids in three ways:
  1. Automated by listening and responding to requests from the power utility (protocol-based)
  2. Scheduled whereby the service provider decides when to go off-grid (calendar-based)
  3. Dynamic based on the lowest cost of power during a particular time period from a particular utility (financial-based)
As more utilities migrate to time-of-day pricing policies, and as the grid is opened to more competitive market dynamics, a telecom operator will have the opportunity in the future to source power from different utilities at various points throughout the day based on the electrical provider with the most cost-effective rates. Today, some service providers are purchasing bulk electrical contracts on an annual basis to better manage costs regardless of the particular facility location.
Are these pure product offerings or managed service offerings as well.
These are pure product offerings with associated professional services. Lineage does not have a managed service offering from centralized operations centers in the United States at this time, but we are evaluating opportunities internationally in countries like India.
SG: Do you currently have any customers for these services or is Grid communications a marketing experiment at this point?
VS: Lineage Power has partnered closely with a large U.S. telecom operator to apply for a U.S. Department of Energy grant that will document in great detail the real-life impact of Total Efficiency smart grid solutions in a production environment. We expect this project to be under way in 2010. When over a billion dollars is spent annually just to cool a service provider network, even a 10 percent savings can have a significant impact.
SG: What standards are you using to communicate with the utilities?
VS: Lineage power systems provide a variety of intelligent, standards-based interfaces that are used for external communication and those use for inter-component communication. Designing our power system control equipment with standard hardware interfaces and upgradeable software capabilities allows application code and modules to be added or enhanced as necessary to adapt to the various utility protocols that are utilized over time.
Presently, a large telco is utilizing the extended monitoring and control capabilities of Lineage Power’s central office Galaxy Power System to alleviate AC load from the utility grid in the form of a semi-automatic demand response. The telco receives communication through email or direct phone call from the utility for relief. Appropriate telco power engineers securely access the power systems and associated peripherals remotely to place the systems on generators, temporarily removing the draw on the AC grid. In some cases, battery-backed power systems are placed into a controlled battery discharge for a select time. The system then can be returned to charging or held at a certain float voltage that supplies load, but doesn’t charge batteries until a more suitable time is deemed for the utility as well as the telco.
Moving the above application into the Automated Demand Response arena, Lineage Power’s Galaxy Manager software can be modified to communicate with the utility using a standard openADR implemented by that specific utility. Galaxy Manager would be equipped to monitor and receive information from the utility and act accordingly by taking the appropriate collection or groups of collection of power systems off the AC grid. Galaxy Manager routines for validating generator fuel levels, state of charge, present battery reserve, order of system priority and more can all be utilize to make smart decisions for the Utility as well as the Telco customer. Today we are using the methods described in the case study outlined above. Lineage Power is testing the openADR standards at our global center for innovation in Plano, TX with a focus on delivering a practical, achievable and cost-effective solution for our service provider customers.
SG: What other opportunities do you see the Smart Grid enabling a company like yourself other than Demand Response.
VS: Another opportunity the smart grid enables occurs during the recovery of an area or region from a power failure. In addition to being backed up by various energy reserve systems, many of Lineage Power systems are equipped with optional load disconnects that can be used for priority selection during a power failure. In the event of a complete power failure, power systems are designed to turn their loads back on through controllable disconnects. This connection is made on voltage, time, and voltage and time parameters. A collection of power sites serving a wireless area can be configured to have different turn-on parameters for the load disconnects. Turning the loads on at different times within a wireless region alleviates the loading stress and transients on the AC grid in that area, yielding a higher probability of successful power up. Combining this individual site capability with Galaxy Manager software and openADR management allows for more intelligent decisions to be made for a much larger area.
Learn more about Smart Grid technology at the Smart Grid Summit, an event collocated with ITEXPO East 2010, to be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami. This is the event you need to attend if you want to understand the role that IP communications technologies will play in how the Smart Grid evolves – not just for making utilities more efficient, but also for enabling the Smart Home and a new generation of communications innovations. Register now.

Shidan Gouran is co-founder of Intelligent Communications Partners (News - Alert) (ICP), a strategic advisory consultancy focused on the emerging Smart Grid opportunity. To read more of his Smart Grid articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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