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Powering Data Centers with Microgrids

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Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central, BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Jan 18, 2023

Microgrids can ensure that data center facilities improve their resilience, reduce energy costs and help society to achieve net zero targets.

The internet has become essential to all kinds of enterprise, from home shopping to utility management. Data centers and their servers have become essential infrastructure for the world, with around 5 billion people online every day.

Worldwide, the estimated 7 million data centers that underpin the internet consume roughly 3% of the global electricity supply and represent nearly 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

With so many people and systems interconnected through the internet, disruptions and downtime at data centers have widespread impacts that can shut down critical systems, disable infrastructure and ripple through the economy.

By building grid-connected microgrids on or adjacent to the data centers, operators can improve reliability.

The architecture of a data center is complex, and a lot can go wrong. For example, they need complex cooling systems, which can break down. They also can face outages from the grid which is a particular problems, as we have seen in Texas recently.

There are a number of issues that can have negative effects in a data center – from complex cooling systems going offline to simple human error. But a rising point of concern is the electric grid itself, which is getting steadily more expensive and complex while becoming more unreliable in the face of aging infrastructure and the worsening impacts of climate change.

In order to ensure a data center is resilient from these shocks, the hardware and software that control it should ensure that the microgrid, including its battery backup, are ready to immediately supply power to the data center in case of emergency. This means that when there is a problem, the on-site system can take over automatically and keep everything running seamlessly until grid power can be restored.

Going beyond backup power to create an integrated microgrid system that improves both uptime and performance while reducing energy costs makes for a compelling case for businesses.


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