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How data centres can use energy storage to support a more stable, sustainable grid

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Grid interactive data centres can support grid stabilisation and sustainability efforts

A new whitepaper, published by power management company Eaton in collaboration with Microsoft, has identified ways in which grid-interactive data centres can support grid stabilisation and sustainability efforts.

The whitepaper, entitled Grid-interactive data centers: enabling decarbonization and system stability, explains how data centres can utilise energy storage capabilities in uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) to monetise existing assets and support improvements in grid stability to enable the integration of more renewables –.without a negative impact on customers

“While renewables are the power source of the future, they create additional complexity for the grid,” said Janne Paananen, whitepaper co-author and Technology Manager, Critical Power Systems at Eaton.

“Data centres have a tremendous opportunity to leverage their UPS assets to help alleviate grid complexities and challenges while creating new revenue opportunities to offset their own energy use. The opportunities we’ve outlined with Microsoft in this whitepaper will have significant implications for both data centre operators as well as the future of the energy grid.”

Ehsan Nasr, Senior Engineer, Data Centre Advanced Development at Microsoft, added: “Data centres are at the heart of our digital economy and have the ability to provide a readily available, better means to support the grid. This support helps enable electrical grids to reach higher levels of renewable energy. Once stored, energy in data centre systems is leveraged to provide flexibility and optimisation services; it becomes an asset with an increased value, so it’s a triple win, for the grid operator, data centre operator and the environment.”

The whitepaper follows a pilot project at the Microsoft Innovation Centre, which utilised Eaton’s EnergyAware technology to exploit the energy storage capabilities of a lithium-ion battery-powered UPS to create a distributed energy resource (DER) for grid operators. The UPS backup power system was engineered by Microsoft and Eaton to respond to the grid condition and when to receive power, when to store it and when to discharge it to support frequency regulation for greater grid stability.

The whitepaper can be read online here.

DCR will be sitting down with Janne Paananen and Ehsan Nasr for an exclusive interview about the whitepaper and what it means for the industry – watch this space!

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