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Stadtwerke Schönebeck: Innovative data centre climate control solution saves thousands of euros annually

Stadtwerke Schönebeck (literally Schönebeck utilities) provides the 32,000 residents of the town and surrounding region in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, with electricity, gas, water and heat. IT systems are vital to effective management of their processes. Moreover, they are imperative to emerging technologies such as smart metering, and to the ongoing digitisation of business processes. Consequently, highly reliable IT is key to ensuring the uninterrupted provision of utilities to approximately 17,000 households and businesses.

“We have successfully deployed Rittal products in our IT infrastructure for many years. For the current project, Rittal’s professionals brought proven experience to the table. They provided us with expert advice, helping us reach our defined goals: minimising data-centre downtime, and paring back our cooling costs.” Thomas Heinemann, Head of IT at Stadtwerke Schönebeck

Cutting-edge power generation

In 2014, Stadtwerke Schönebeck launched an upgrade project with the aim of improving climate control and power generation – to safeguard against unplanned downtime, and cut costs. “IT systems are becoming ever more essential to the energy industry. As a consequence, we must maximise system availability, and at the same time, increase cost-efficiency,” Thomas Heinemann explains.

A key feature of Stadtwerke Schönebeck’s facility is its use of combined heat and power (CHP) units. As their name suggests, these units produce both electricity and heat (cogeneration). Most of the energy produced – for example, by gas engines – is transformed into electricity by means of generators. The waste heat is harnessed for district heating or production processes. Stadtwerke Schönebeck takes this sophisticated solution a step further. It leverages one of its CHP units year-round to heat the building – and to cool the IT systems.

Waste heat drives direct cooling

In Stadtwerke Schönebeck’s data centre, the temperature in the IT racks is kept low by direct cooling from Rittal’s integrated air/water heat exchanger LCP Inline (liquid cooling package) units, used in conjunction with high-performance heat exchangers. The LCPs can be installed within rows of server racks, and achieve a maximum cooling output of up to 30 kW.

The six Rittal TS IT racks in the data centre are equipped with conventional server and network components.

An elegant solution

To improve safety, Rittal incorporated its DET-AC III fire alarm and extinguisher systems in the IT racks. These devices recognise fumes and smoke, providing early detection long before the conventional fire alarms are triggered. Should these tell-tale symptoms indicate the beginnings of a fire, the systems discharge Novec 1230. This fire suppression agent absorbs heat, interrupting the combustion process.

The result is an exceptionally efficient solution. It makes best use of input energy, employing it for trigeneration: for electricity, heating and cooling. Stadtwerke Schönebeck estimates that it saves approximately 5,000 euros per year on operating costs for the building and data centre. The new cooling technology, the upgraded design of cool/warm air distribution in the racks, and additional safety and monitoring systems are key elements. Combined, they have helped Stadtwerke Schönebeck achieve its aims of improving system availability and cutting the cost of IT operations.