Sep 27, 2012

What are greener alternatives to diesel backup generators?

I read a blog entry that Microsoft was planning to move away from diesel backup generators to improve its focus on clean energy. But what are the best alternatives to diesel generators for backup power? Diesel generators have been used for backup power everywhere I've worked.


I think the most obvious alternative for data centers is a natural gas backup generator.  Start time is longer than with diesel though, so you have to take that into account.  There is also the issue of potential interruption of natural gas supply in the event of some natural disasters, such as earthquake.  This brings up the option of duel fuel generators.  Honestly though, there is relatively little time that backup generators are running, even with regular testing, so I'm not sure how much difference it makes in the big scheme of things.  More efficient cooling would probably be a much greener investment, and potential money saver.    


The link supplied by Jim Lynch mentions the main alternatives -- solar, wind and water. Another site called Eco Friendly Green Earth writes about magnetic generators.


Then there's "pedal power," but that's probably not a viable solution for an enterprise.



Here's an article that offers a few suggestions:

Generator Alternatives for Home Backup Power

"Generators have been supplying backup power to hospitals, military bases, schools and homes for many years. Generators are powered by traditional fuels, including natural gas, propane, oil fuel, and diesel. Some green energy alternatives to these generators are on the market now that are extremely sustainable and very quiet, and they can be used for far more than just emergency backup. Most require specific site conditions for efficient operation."
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