Microsoft Information Heart Batteries To Assist The Expansion Of Renewables On The Facility Grid

Nearly 400 wind farms in Ireland at this time collectively generate greater than 35% of the island’s electrical energy. These carbon-free electrons journey by way of energy strains to farms, companies and houses, serving to utilities keep away from carbon dioxide and different greenhouse fuel emissions from burning fossil fuels to generate electrical energy.

Like anyplace else on this planet, wind depth in Ireland fluctuates all through the day and thru the seasons, inflicting various quantities of energy manufacturing. As the availability of renewable power will increase, there’s a rising downside for energy grid operators. That’s as a result of they solely want to make use of the precise quantity of power that customers get out of it. Nothing extra nothing much less.

Banks of lithium-ion batteries in a Microsoft information heart in Dublin will probably be a part of the answer to this downside later this 12 months.

These batteries, which generally present backup energy to the information heart in an emergency, are licensed, examined, and permitted for connection to the grid in a method that helps grid operators present uninterrupted service when demand exceeds provide elsewhere on the grid. the grid is generated by wind, photo voltaic and different sources.

Offering this community service “is a way for us to unlock the value of the data center,” mentioned Nur Bernhardt, senior program supervisor for power at Microsoft.

Decarbonisation Of The Grid

Power grid operators world wide usually depend on coal and pure gas-fired energy vegetation to keep up what’s generally known as the spin reserve, or extra capability, that may reply rapidly to offer grid companies.

The means to make use of the information heart’s batteries to offer these companies reduces the necessity to keep operating reserve at energy vegetation, which lowers carbon emissions from the power sector, Bernhardt explains.

The batteries are half of what’s referred to as the uninterruptible energy provide or UPS for the information heart. The UPS in Microsoft’s information heart in Dublin incorporates new expertise that permits real-time interplay with the facility grid.

If grid interactive UPSs exchange grid companies at the moment supplied by fossil gasoline energy stations in Ireland and Northern Ireland, round two million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions may very well be prevented by 2025. Baringaan power consultancy commissioned by Microsoft analyze the potential influence of the expertise.

“This is definitely a change in emissions on a national level,” mentioned Mark Turner, a companion in Baringa’s power observe who helped conduct the evaluation.

Two million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are a few fifth of the overall emissions anticipated on the island of Ireland by 2025 from the power sector, he defined.

In addition, end-users throughout Ireland might save tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in gasoline and different prices required to keep up the operating reserve in coal and pure gas-fired energy stations by counting on grid-interactive UPS expertise for community companies.

“The third win is you reduce the amount you have to reject from renewables,” Turner mentioned. “Because if you turn on gas-fired power stations to provide this service, you have to turn off something else. This is often renewable energy. If you deliver this to UPS, you don’t have to do that anymore.”

John Byrne (proper), head of operations for Enel X UK & Ireland, and Michal Frąckowiak, discipline operations engineer at Enel X UK & Ireland look at information on laptop screens throughout a system take a look at of the grid-interactive UPS at a Microsoft information heart in Dublin, Ireland . Photo by Naoise Culhane.

Data Facilities As Grid Belongings

People who run information facilities typically discuss concerning the “five nines” of reliability, which is shorthand for a promise to prospects that the information heart will probably be on-line 99.999% of the time. To do this, information heart operators rely partly on the batteries within the UPSs to activate within the occasion of an influence outage and energy the servers whereas the backup turbines hearth up.

The essential function of the UPS system is to offer energy to the servers. The UPS system is at all times on and supplies safety to the servers. In 2017, Microsoft started exploring alternatives to leverage these belongings.

“The concept was to use the UPS, which provides continuous protection, change the controller on the UPS and provide services back to the power grid,” mentioned Ehsan Nasr, a senior design researcher who works in Microsoft’s superior information heart growth group. .

Grid frequency turns into extra risky as variable renewable power provide on the grid will increase, famous Christian Belady, main engineer and vp of Microsoft’s superior information heart growth group.

This improve in volatility in flip will increase the worth of belongings similar to batteries that may assist stability provide and demand, he defined.

“We have this battery in the data center just sitting there,” Belady mentioned. “Why don’t we feed it into the grid and come up with a dynamic way to manage it as a dual-purpose asset to drive greater efficiency and asset utilization? That has led to this win-win situation.”

To this finish, his workforce teamed up with an clever power administration firm, Eaton, to develop and take a look at a grid-interactive UPS. They carried out proof-of-concept experiments in 2020 at a Microsoft information heart in Chicago and additional refined the expertise at Microsoft’s information heart in Quincy, Washington.

“We ensure that we can provide the exact functionality of the UPS while providing additional services to the grid with secure communication between the data center and the utility,” mentioned Nasr.

A man stands with arms folded in front of an immersion cooling tank in a data center

Christian Belady, famend engineer and vp of Microsoft’s superior information heart growth group, stands subsequent to a two-stage immersion cooling tank in a Microsoft information heart. Photo by Gene Twedt for Microsoft.

A Enterprise Case In Ireland

Now that grid-interactive UPS expertise has been demonstrated as a viable grid service supplier, the following step was to discover a market with a enterprise case for implementation, mentioned Mycah Gambrell-Ermak, a lead program supervisor at Microsoft who labored on this mission and is now on the availability chain technique workforce.

Microsoft discovered a chance in Ireland, the place variable renewable power already accounts for greater than 35% of the island’s electrical energy and that determine is anticipated to develop to 80% by 2030. This degree of variable energy era requires grid stabilization companies usually supplied by fossil gasoline energy vegetation.

“In areas where municipalities or utilities are trying to move away from fossil fuel-based solutions, if there is a dip in renewable reserves, as a company we can take our big load and we can reduce our load by using our own batteries to ,” mentioned Gambrell-Ermak.

EirGrid, the transmission system operator in Ireland, operates a community companies market that prioritizes zero-carbon options. Microsoft participates on this market by means of Enel Xa supplier of power companies and options that merges industrial and business power customers into digital energy vegetation.

“Utilities can give us a signal through aggregators that tells us to discharge our batteries to offset our load, thus taking the strain off the power grid,” explains Gambrell-Ermak.

A man is working on a laptop at a UPS in a data center

John Byrne, Head of Operations for Enel X UK & Ireland, performs a system take a look at on the grid interactive UPS at a Microsoft information heart in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Naoise Culhane.

Blueprint For The World

EirGrid’s community companies market is a blueprint for a way applied sciences, similar to grid-interactive UPS techniques in information facilities and different industrial amenities, may help decarbonise energy grids world wide, in line with Paul Troughton, senior director of regulatory affairs for Enel X .

“I often think of Ireland as a vision of the future of what other systems’ networks will look like,” he mentioned.

As different international locations transfer in direction of higher dependence on renewable power, they are going to discover themselves in an analogous scenario.

“If you add renewables, your conventional power plants retire and you can no longer rely on them to provide the services they would traditionally provide,” Troughton mentioned. “You have to do something to get better at managing frequency.”

Microsoft is exploring alternatives to offer grid stabilization companies with grid-interactive UPS expertise in its information facilities world wide to additional speed up progress towards grid decarbonization, Bernhardt mentioned.

The grid-interactive UPS initiative is a part of the corporate’s dedication to turn out to be carbon detrimental by 2030which additionally consists of information heart experiments with liquid immersion cooling for servers, hydrogen gasoline cells for backup energy era, together with operational modifications to extend effectivity and design, similar to high-density chilly plate options.

“The long-term vision is to turn the data center assets into something that can provide social benefit beyond our own operations,” mentioned Bernhardt.

The EirGrid community companies market, he defined, affords firms like Microsoft the chance to deploy options that handle grid reliability considerations related to the expansion of renewables.

“We can still maintain our reliability requirements for our customers, but at the same time use our infrastructure to provide reliability to the grid, reduce carbon emissions and lower costs for all energy consumers.”


John Roach writes about Microsoft analysis and innovation. Follow him on Twitter.

Top picture: Top picture: Nearly 400 wind farms in Ireland generate greater than 35% of the island’s electrical energy. Microsoft’s grid-interactive UPS system helps stability the facility grid when demand exceeds accessible provide from wind and different sources. Photo by Paul Briden, Adobe Stock.


Leave a Comment