West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council cuts running costs by 75% with UPS Power

Any shift in an organisation’s circumstances can result in significant changes to its data storage and processing requirements. In turn, this can have a knock-on effect on the UPS equipment used to support the critical load and maintain 24/7 availability. Combine this potential shift in demand with an aging, inefficient UPS system and there is often the opportunity to make significant savings to operating expenditure, energy consumption and carbon emissions through the use of the latest ‘green’ UPS technology.

Understanding The Challenge

This was recently the scenario facing West Sussex County Council when the local authority took over the landmark County Hall North building, located in Horsham. The site, which was formally occupied by insurance giant Royal Sun Alliance, is now one of the council’s five main hubs, housing up to 600 employees and managing a broad range of critical data relating to day-to-day operations across the county and including social services, local residents’ details and other highly sensitive information.

Following the council’s arrival at County Hall North, and in line with its ongoing carbon reduction commitment policy, a review of the current UPS system was commissioned to identify how the function of the building had changed and where savings could be made. Instrumental in the review process was the council’s Carbon Management Team, which is responsible for meeting targets for reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions across the council’s 300 buildings and allocates budget for projects which offer the greatest value to local residents.

Nicola Winser, Carbon Management Officer for the council explains: “Fundamentally, the way we are using the building and the quantity of critical data we are producing is very different today. This building’s previous owners were heavily data focused, and therefore required a much greater data storage capacity. Because of this, the UPS system was also much larger than we needed and it was therefore generating more heat, which in turn, meant it needed more air conditioning.”

Once the review was complete, it was clear that the council’s critical load was significantly smaller than the current capacity, with only relatively small increases in load expected over the next five years. This meant a new UPS, specifically tailored to the council’s actual load, could be commissioned:

“Using ongoing monitoring data from the old UPS, we were able to identify the council’s current load. The old UPS had a capacity of 200 kVA; with another 200 kVA stand alone UPS just for redundancy. In itself, this was an inefficient system compared to current technology and we didn’t need anywhere near that amount of capacity so immediately we recognised that we could reduce the size of the UPS, thus also reducing our cooling requirements,” continued Winser.

West Sussex County Council

“After looking at the PW 9000DPA product it was clear it offered the best solution for our needs at a competitive price.”

Nicola Winser
Carbon Management Officer for the council

“with the 9000DPA’s modular technology, we had the flexibility we needed to expand the system in line with any future growth in council data – eliminating unnecessary capital expenditure at the outset and avoiding excessive energy and cooling costs.”

Finding The Right Solution

It was at this stage that Kohler Uninterruptible Power, a Kohler company, were contacted to provide an appropriately sized and efficient UPS system that could manage the transition between the mains and a standby generator, ensuring that all data remained accessible and unaffected by any power interruptions.

The decision to work with Kohler Uninterruptible Power was based on the council’s and its maintenance contractor Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) Contracting identifying them as providing best value for money for the local authority, as Winser explains:

“After looking at the PW 9000DPA product it was clear it offered the best solution for our needs at a competitive price. Our review had highlighted that our actual load was less than 100 kVA and with the 9000DPA’s modular technology, we had the flexibility we needed to expand the system in line with any future growth in council data – eliminating unnecessary capital expenditure at the outset and avoiding excessive energy and cooling costs.”

The selected PW 9000DPA system offered the council a 100 kVA load capacity, comprising three 50 kVA modules with N+1 redundancy. Should the council’s load require it, the PW 9000DPA’s true ‘hot-swap’ modularity enables capacity to be added in cost-effective incremental steps as power requirements grow. Additionally, the ability to ‘hot-swap’ modules whilst the system is online significantly reduces mean time to repair (MTTR) and simplifies system power upgrades.

Commissioning and installation for the project was handled in conjunction with West Sussex’s partnering contractor, SSE Contracting. Ian McIsaac, Electrical Contracts Engineer for SSE, was responsible for overseeing the process, as he explains:

“The commissioning process can be very challenging but working with Kohler Uninterruptible Power, there was nothing we couldn’t over come or couldn’t foresee in terms of installation and timescales. There was no affect on the business whatsoever. That said, in the pre-installation we had to consult a lot of people in the building, especially in the IT department because of the nature of what the UPS is supporting. We needed to make sure the entire IT department was happy and knew what was going on but in the end we didn’t need to shut the power down, it all ran very smoothly, and there was no risk to the load.”

Feeling The Benefit

The installation of the PW 9000DPA presented the council with multiple financial benefits, both immediate and longer term. The age of the previous UPS and battery bank meant it was significantly less efficient than the latest UPS technology.

“To give you an idea of the breakdown, the old UPS running costs were £7631 a year. That’s just the power consumption. On top of that, the air conditioning was costing £2500 a year. Compare that to the new system and we are expecting power costs of £1800, with cooling costing less than £600 a year. Over a five year period, we will be saving almost £39,000 in reduced energy and air conditioning costs alone,” said Winser.

It wasn’t just in cash terms that the council was able to save. The new system also offered a substantial reduction in carbon emissions, a key driver for the project.

“Reducing our carbon emissions is an ongoing commitment for the council and especially my team. West Sussex’s annual CO2 reduction targetis 320 tonnes for the entire corporate estate and although there are 300 buildings, finding projects that deliver meaningful reductions is still a challenge. That’s why this was such an important project for us. The new UPS system was able to deliver a 37 tonne reduction, due to the UPS being 11 per cent more efficient at its expected loading, so it’s a high proportion of our annual target,” Winser added.

West Sussex County Council was also able to receive 80 per cent of the total purchase and installation costs through the Salix Finance scheme, funded by the DECC. Salix Finance helps to empower public sector organisations to take a lead in tackling climate change by helping to increase their energy efficiency. In the case of West Sussex County Council, only 20 per cent of its own funding was required for the project with the rest coming from Salix matched funding. This was due in part to the high efficiency of the new UPS but also the reduced number of kWh consumed by the system. Salix’s own analysis revealed that the new system would generate a 70,676 kWh saving, equating to 14 per cent of the system’s total power consumption.

Commercial organisations could also benefit from the PW 9000DPA’s high efficiency and exceptionally low cost of ownership through its inclusion on the Carbon Trust’s Energy Technology List for Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA). This means businesses are able to offset the total cost of the equipment against taxable profits within the year of purchase.

Further Information

For more information on the benefits of the ECA scheme, visit the ECA website.

“Reducing our carbon emissions is an ongoing commitment for the council… The new UPS system was able to deliver a 37 tonne reduction.”


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