Monthly Archives

July 2017

Is It Possible To Harness Too Much Solar Power? California Says Yes

By | Backup power, Green

California leads the nation in the production of solar power. Solar produces nearly 14% of the state’s electricity annually. Some months that percentage climbs higher and some months it is lower. And those high months are starting to cause problems for the Golden State.

In March 2017, solar energy accounted for 40% of the state’s electricity. Sounds great, right? It’s exactly the direction you’d expect a state so heavily invested in solar would be thrilled to experience. Except it hasn’t turned out so great.

More Solar Than The Grid Can Handle

As the LA Times reported, the state’s electrical grid can’t handle all that solar power so California actually had to pay other states to take the surplus! This has already happened several times this year. California can’t risk overloading its’ power lines and causing power outages. To prevent that from happening, the state has to offload the excess and/or order solar plants to reduce their production at certain times of year. If states can use the solar electricity, they get it for free. If they don’t necessarily need it, California might pay them to take it.

Grids Are Slow To Adapt To Renewables

The situation highlights an unanticipated problem with the power grid: grids aren’t ready to handle the influx of renewable energy sources. Since solar supply (and demand) fluctuates throughout the year, the gaps must be filled with electricity from fossil fuels. That means power grids have to have some overlap to accommodate both fossil fuel and solar produced electricity. For now, solar loses out. It’s simply easier to shut down a solar farm than a natural gas plant when supply exceeds demand.

Part of the problem may be that solar took off much faster than the state anticipated and policymakers and regulatory agencies are struggling to catch up. The solution likely lies in battery storage. As batteries become more efficient and affordable, the hope is that solar power can be safely stored and used when supply dips. Until then, power grids will still need to support both fossil fuel electricity and solar electricity equally, switching from one to the other as supply and demand dictate.

The Data Center Boomerang Effect: Will It Affect Your Business?

By | Data Centers

There has been a lot of talk in the data center industry about 2017’s data center “boomerang effect”. The term refers to the actions of tech companies and large enterprises that had embraced public cloud computing early on and are now moving away from it and bringing the operations back in-house.

Why do reversals like this happen? In many cases, it comes down to cost.

Costs Create The Boomerang

Public cloud computing was billed as a way for businesses to rein in IT expenses. And it works. For a time. In certain situations. If you don’t get too big. By using the public cloud to leverage IT needs, businesses and enterprises are able to save on hardware and software costs as well as IT personnel expenses. Ideally, the amount the business spends on their monthly public cloud bills is less than the cost of managing the entire process in-house. And for many start-ups and small businesses this is exactly what happens.

But that doesn’t always last. Sometimes, business growth demands more from the public cloud than an enterprise is willing or able to afford. When that happens, the boomerang is activated and IT managers bring the function back in-house.

Maximizing Cloud Services

The boomerang effect does not mean that a business will stop using the public cloud altogether, although that can and does occur. What happens more often is companies re-think their approach and maximize their resources by creating a new multi-cloud system. They may use a combination of public, private and hybrid cloud solutions along with software-as-a-service and managed services, depending on their needs and capabilities. This hybrid approach allows businesses to optimize workloads, improve system agility, and make the most of their IT budgets.

We’re curious. Has your business experienced a data center boomerang effect? Are you bringing outsourced services back in-house? Do you foresee it happening in the future?

Heat Wave Of 2017 Expected To Impact Farming And Livestock

By | Uncategorized

June saw an unexpected heat wave sweep over the southwestern U.S. Temperatures were so high that flights were grounded, power was knocked out, and roads were buckling. To no one’s surprise, farmers have been hit hard by this extreme heat. Crops will undoubtedly suffer stress and lead to lower yields. Livestock and poultry suffer from the heat too. Farmers had their hands full trying to protect animals from heat stress and losses. From physically moving animals to installing sprinklers and shade structures, the efforts are commendable, but will they be enough?

Protecting Against Climate Extremes

While we can’t say for sure that climate change is at work here, we also can’t deny that heat waves have become more frequent and more severe. Unfortunately, ranchers may have to start planning for this type of extreme heat by:

  • Establishing cooling houses. Heat susceptible animals may require specially cooled areas or even air-conditioned barns.
  • Adding shade to pens, enclosures, and pastures. Natural shade like trees can be complemented with sunscreens and man-made structures.
  • Increasing roof heights. Higher ceilings and roofs allow heat to rise higher and away from the animals.
  • Increasing ventilation. High-powered fans can force hot air out and help keep the inside of barns cooler.
  •   Adding water stations. Increasing the number of water stations can help ensure livestock are well-hydrated. Add more wallow ponds or natural sources of water for animals to drink or wade in. Keep water shaded if possible.
  • Adding sprinklers. Sprinklers can help animals stay cool and find some relief from the heat.

Protect Against Power Loss

Although not often associated with extreme heat, power loss does happen. Increased use of cooling systems can overload local power grids and lead to brownouts, blackouts, or system shutdown. Farmers and ranchers can protect against this risk by adding backup power systems to their facilities. Backup generators will keep the fans going, A/C units running, and water chillers chilling even if the rest of the area is without power.

The investment is well worth it when you consider that the cost of not installing such backup protection is your livelihood.

Learn more about backup power systems by contacting Critical Power Products & Services at 877-475-5322.

Why Does Cell Service Work Even When The Power Is Out? Thank A Generator

By | Backup power, Emergency Preparedness, Generators

Why Does Cell Service Work Even When The Power Is Out? Thank A Generator

After any major incident or natural disaster it’s common to hear reports of thousands of people without power, but if that’s the case, why do their cell phones still work? Assuming the cell phone is charged, many cellular phone users will be able to make calls, text, and even surf the web when their local power is out. That’s because cell towers are protected from local power outages with backup generators and batteries.

Planned Protection

 

In response, the federal government, via the FCC released the “Katrina Panel Order” in 2007, which recommended, among other things, that nearly all U.S. cell phone towers be outfitted with at least eight hours of backup power. Unfortunately, the order never became law.

Still, this didn’t prevent cellular carriers for taking matters into their own hands and installing backup generators or batteries that can keep towers operational even when the local grid goes down. The aftermath of disasters like Katrina, Sandy, and Matthew has led to the creation of ever more robust backup power plans and systems for cell towers and an increase in redundancy. Even if a tower has power, it could still be damaged or knocked over. Still, the redundancy that is built into cellular networks simply shifts those calls to an operational tower. The resulting service may be slow and spotty, but it least it works!

Even Small Scale Backup Generators Provide Critical Protections

You don’t have to be a major cellular service provider to benefit from the protection that backup generators provide. Even the smallest of businesses can use backup generators to keep the doors open and the lights on in the event of a localized power failure. If your business is one that would benefit from remaining open during the aftermath of an emergency or natural disaster, a generator is an investment well worth making.

Power Outage

Protecting cell towers from power loss is no accident. After 2005’s Hurricane Katrina took out 70% of the cell towers in New Orleans, cellular service providers realized they had a problem. If you remember, the aftermath of Katrina was complete chaos. This was for many reasons, but one of the biggest problems was the lack of communication between people, government agencies, and first responders. Without cellular phone access, it was very difficult to coordinate rescue efforts and organize evacuations.