VDC Research Group, Natick, Mass., estimates that the growth of worldwide shipments of medium and large uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) surpassed shipments of smaller UPSs by more than 2-to-1 (see Figure) over the last two years, according to its recently published multi-volume study “2008 Power Protection: Global Market Demand Analysis.”

Although all segments of the worldwide UPS market have experienced growth, shipments of UPSs with capacities of 20.1kVA or greater — which typically are deployed in data centers and other mission-critical systems — are expected to grow faster than those of small UPSs designed for home and small to medium businesses.

Regardless of this growth, leading suppliers are no longer counting on UPSs alone to generate revenues. Many suppliers offer complete power protection or data center infrastructure solutions — from supplying power distribution and cooling equipment to offering design and application support services.

Because the need to store more data and provide more computing power is increasing, suppliers and end-users continue to assess methods and alternatives to decelerate the associated increases in electricity consumption and operating costs. Areas being researched, developed, and deployed include more efficient equipment, the availability of design, monitoring, and control software, and alternative energy storage technologies. Advancements in these areas also will present growth opportunities for established as well as emerging participants.

Many of the new advances in the UPS arena involve alternatives to lead-acid batteries. Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries are the principal energy storage technology in use today. Several companies have been successful in deploying fuel cells and flywheels in environments that require the power protection usually associated with VRLA battery UPS systems. These alternative technologies often are deployed in conjunction with traditional battery-based UPS solutions, but allow users to reduce the size of the installed battery banks.

For more information, visit www.vdcresearch.com.