General Motors has deployed flywheels for battery-free backup power at its Enterprise Data Center, which has earned Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program. GM switched from a space-hogging, battery-based Uninterruptible Power Supply to one powered by mechanical flywheels and a diesel engine. The flywheel also avoids the use of the equivalent of 12,000 car batteries, along with the heating and cooling systems required to keep the batteries at their optimal temperature.
The facility also features in-row cooling. Together with the flywheel, this innovation contribute to a 70 percent reduction in power usage.
Fewer than 5 percent of data centers in the U.S. achieve LEED certification, according to the building council. GM’s data hub on its Technical Center campus in this Detroit suburb is the company’s fifth LEED-certified facility and second brownfield project.
“We set out to consolidate our global IT infrastructure from 23 data centers to two, which is helping improve application performance while reducing operating costs and energy use,” said Randy Mott, GM senior vice president and CIO. “We’re not only gaining efficiencies from insourcing, but we’ve incorporated world-class energy-saving technology into the facility itself.”
“We have built 5 million square feet of data centers around the world and this is one of the first ones incorporating this flywheel-powered back-up technology,” said Bernie Woytek, senior associate with Gensler, a global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm. “It essentially eliminates a football field-sized room of batteries.”