Critical Facility Cooling Energy Optimization (2020)

By Thomas Hurley, Comcast Cable Corporation; John Dolan, Rogers Communications Inc.; Arnold Murphy, Strategic Clean Technology; Mike Glaser, Cox Communications Inc.; John Teague, Worldwide Environmental Services; Ken Nickel, Quest Controls, Inc.

With the current state of the world in turmoil due to the COVID-19 virus, there has never been a time in history when cable, internet and communication networks have been so heavily stressed.

Corporations, businesses, schools, healthcare and families have been thrust into new ways of meeting, learning, socializing and transacting business -- with almost all of them flowing through cable and Internet providers. With this massive increase in traffic on all of the broadband networks comes an increased use of electricity to power all of the components needed to keep the critical infrastructure (CI) up and running. This increased consumption of energy to deliver internet and cable television services is being offset by continued conservation efforts across the industry. This paper will identify how Comcast is contributing to those efforts with three case study results which show substantial savings potential if deployed across the cable operator industry.

The production spaces, where the servers, modems, switches and routers are housed, are called headends, which divide their energy usage into 2 main categories. The first is IT production load (modems, switches etc.) and second is the cooling load, with both expressed in kilowatts (kW). This paper will look at our efforts to reduce energy consumption from the cooling load at the headends.

The pilot initiatives include set point adjustments on air conditioners, blanking panels in racks, and economizer options on air conditioners (also known as “free cooling”). Although these strategies have been publicly promoted in the past by trade groups, engineering firms and vendors, this paper will provide specific applications and verifiable results which have far exceeded the expectations of this author.

These programs will demonstrate saving opportunities primarily associated with computer room air conditioner (CRAC) cooling energy, ranging from 12% to 50% without any negative impact to operations or reliability. These significant savings will be shown to measurably reduce operating expenses, carbon emissions and preserve capital with payback periods from less than 1 year to 3.5 years.

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