With the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries in data centres, the market is expected to grow significantly by 2025
The Middle East and particularly the GCC has seen a sharp rise in the number of data centres in recent years to cope with increased demand for cloud and big data. This in turn has led to greater interest in the ancillary market supporting data centres.
According to a recent report by Frost&Sullivan, lithium-ion batteries accounted for 15 per cent of the data centre battery market in 2020, but with the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries in data centres, this is expected to increase to 38.5 per cent by 2025.
In comparison to lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries have a longer service life, a smaller footprint, lower load-bearing requirements, easy maintenance, environmental protection and consistent stability. As a result, lithium-ion batteries will become the preferred backup power source for data centres in the future, stated Frost & Sullivan.
Here are some of the reasons that the lithium-ion battery market is seeing a boom:
The substantially higher starting prices of lithium-ion batteries are one of the major issues for data centre operators. Li-ion batteries generally cost 1.3 to 2 times as much as lead-acid batteries. However, the battery prices are expected to continue to fall, with prices anticipated to drop below $100 per kWh by 2028. This development is likely to overcome early cost concerns.
Reliability and compatibility
One of the barriers in the transition from lithium-ion batteries to large-scale energy storage systems is reliability. Combustion or even explosion is the most common lithium-ion battery dependability issues. The main causes leading to these problems are internal short circuits inside the batteries and internal thermal runaway caused by external factors such as overcharge, squeeze, puncture, and drop.
When it comes to replacing their old battery string with lithium-ion, data centre owners are concerned about whether their present UPS system is compatible with lithium-ion technology. They are worried about whether the established UPS system will work well with lithium-ion batteries because they have a different charging circuit and dissimilar controls than lead-acid batteries. They feel that significant hardware and embedded software upgrades may be required.
To improve the reliability of lithium-ion batteries, Frost & Sullivan proposed the following recommendations:
Select stable cell materials. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) has a highly durable molecular structure. LFP decomposition does not generate O2, which dramatically reduces an explosion risk. For example, a nail test is used to verify the reliability of LFP. After a short-circuit, thermal runaway occurs inside the cell, with no fire and no explosion.
Ensure system-level reliability. The BMS management system of lithium batteries is essential. Multi-level BMS management must be used to identify faults and maintain them in advance to control thermal runaway early to prevent fires.
Combine with prevention and firefighting. The reliability of lithium batteries depends on prevention. Once a fire occurs, the impact must be minimised to prevent the fire from spreading in the cabinet. In addition, the cabinet must be equipped with fire extinguishing methods. When a fire occurs, the tools must be used to extinguish the fire quickly. In-cabinet fire extinguishing modes can be module-level or cabinet-level.
Huawei, which has been investing heavily in R&D to help customers accelerate digital transformation and meet new requirements of simplified architecture, is pursuing higher power density and advanced lithium-ion battery energy storage technologies in data centres.