Leading power protection specialist Riello UPS explores where all the megawatts of electricity needed to power the UK’s data centre industry comes from.

Data centres already consume around 3% of all the electricity required throughout the world, and with demand for storage and processing capacity only getting bigger thanks to the rise of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), these power pressures are only going to be intensified.

Indeed, according to Digital Realty’s ‘Data Economy Report 2018’, the UK’s digital economy grew by 33% between 2012 and 2016.

However, do you even know how electricity is generated? How is all the power we need actually produced? And how does this electricity from the National Grid get into not just our server rooms, but our homes too?

The first in a series of ‘UPS Basics’ videos by Riello UPS explores all these questions and more.

Electricity and the data centre

In forthcoming episodes, you’ll get to learn how one of the key elements of a data centre’s infrastructure, its uninterruptible power supply (UPS), works. We’ll also explain the various UPS modes of operation as well as offer advice that’ll help you select the best type of UPS for your facility.

But in this first instalment, we cover the fundamentals of power generation in the UK. This brief video explains the various sources that are used to generate electricity, from traditional fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, through to renewables like solar power or wind, which produce more than a fifth of the country’s power, and also nuclear generation.

The animated film explains how electricity that starts its life at power stations measuring 400 kilovolts is reduced to 230 volts so it is suitable for domestic or commercial use. It also describes the differences between single-phase and three-phase power, how each type is produced, and which applications both are suitable for.


In the next edition of UPS Basics, we’ll tackle some of the most common power problems that data centres need to overcome on a day-to-day basis. It covers everything from sags and brownouts, through to spikes, transients, and the most damaging power outages.