The cloud can catch fire.

And no, not in a fire-and-brimstone kind of thing. Not yet, at least. But there is a very vibrant and dangerous thing that happens when a data center catches fire. Not only are all of your Facebook albums incinerated, but there is also no way to effectively put the fire out.

Kidding about the Facebook albums. We know how the cloud works. Already, data centers are a condensed mess of plastics and heavy metals in giant warehouses that require excessive amounts of power to keep cool. When one of them overheats or goes down, millions of people around the country might struggle with getting their emails or Slack channels to reload. Productivity stops. Increasingly, to keep data centers online even when there is a power failure, companies are using lithium-ion batteries (BIG ones) to keep their service up.

But when the fire starts, it can’t be stopped. It is a huge, toxic event that no fire management system is equipped to put out. All they can do is try to contain the flame and let it burn itself out.

How big of a problem is this? Well, for starters, there are about two data center fires a year in the States.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? Here’s the rub.

Because of the toxic threat, some states are outright finished with building new data centers within their borders. The risk is too big, the consequences too great. The power appetite for these facilities is massive, so they are constructed near hydroelectric power – or near dams. Many of these dams are in mountainous, rugged deserts, and forests. Downed lines can cause a forest fire and send up the data center.

Some states are open to having companies build new data centers. These tend to be places with lower tax revenue with politicians promising to bring in blue-collar jobs. Since these states aren’t known for their mountains and dams, the power comes from coal and biomass plants that are nowhere near capable enough of powering data centers AND the populations they already serve. There are growing concerns that existing power production infrastructure is far short of meeting the increased power demand in some of these regions over the next two years.

Couple this with the rise of power consumption in smart homes, electric vehicles, and the need for more climate control (heating and cooling – both ends are getting extreme), and we’re looking at a deficit all across the grid. Solar and wind might add a few drops to the bucket, but we are once again facing the question: where is all this power going to come from?

The focus of Motus Group has always been narrow: how can we get this working better? Not only does efficiency lead to lower operational costs (and more profit!), but it takes care of the output leakages along the way. If you’re wondering if your plant or facility could be running a little smoother – and maybe treating the grid a little better – get in touch with us. Our team has ideas for you.

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