Electrical Review: Riello UPS & RWE – Partnership Powering The Future

Electrical Review magazine profiles the partnership between Riello UPS and RWE that gives data centres the chance to turn their uninterruptible power supply systems into demand side response capable ‘virtual power plants’.

Last month (May 2019) saw the UK go more than a week without using coal to generate electricity, the longest period since the Industrial Revolution.

This is just another example of the changing nature of our nation’s power generation. Out with coal, thermal, and even nuclear. In with solar, wind, tidal and other renewable sources.

Diverse smart grids of interconnected producers combining on-site generation and battery storage to balance supply with demand in real-time. That’s the likely scenario in the year to come.

This changing landscape opens up opportunities for large-scale energy users to play a more active part in our electricity network.

That’s the reasoning behind the new partnership between Riello UPS and energy trading experts RWE. We explain the potential of ‘virtual power plants’ to Electrical Review magazine.

Riello UPS & RWE – What’s The Concept?

The collaboration brings together Riello UPS – one of Europe’s biggest uninterruptible power supply manufacturers – with RWE, one of the biggest electricity providers in Germany. Through its RWE Supply & Trading division, it’s also a significant energy trader across Europe.

We take an efficient UPS and adapt it with a special rectifier that enables power to flow both from and to the electricity grid.

This UPS is supported with premium batteries (either lead-acid or lithium-ion) and cutting-edge monitoring systems and communications software that enables real-time interaction with the network.

Word cloud of terms associated with smart energy grids, electricity and power generation
SMART MOVE: Our ongoing work with RWE highlights how the role of UPS systems is changing

Mandatory battery monitoring also helps improve reliability through predictive maintenance, reducing the risk of large-scale battery failure. Consequently, this eliminates one of the big stumbling blocks to data centre participation in demand side response.

Batteries are split into two functions: emergency backup only and commercial. The latter stores electricity for use in various DSR mechanisms, for example, Firm Frequency Response.

If a power failure does occur, any energy left in the commercial element can be triggered to extend the runtime of the main backup.

Advantages For Data Centre Operators

“For data centre operators, there are two major benefits. Firstly, we will look to subsidise the more expensive premium batteries, this reduces significantly upfront and operational costs and increases the system reliability compared to installing a conventional UPS system.

“Secondly, RWE also takes on any associated risk with trading on the energy market. We can help operators reduce standard grid operating costs. Depending on where the project is connected, operators could save up to £6,000 per MW a year.

“Data centres also have the opportunity to tap into the wide range of financial incentives that National Grid offers to help balance the electricity network.”

– Dario Hernandez, Product Manager for RWE Supply & Trading GmbH

The partnership’s initial pilot plant opened last autumn. Based in RWE’s global headquarters in Essen, Germany, the site carries a secured load of 100 kW.

In fact, it has been such a success that it is shortlisted in the smart grid category of the Datacloud Global Awards 2019.

Plans for a follow-up plant in the UK continue apace, with it expected to be up and running later this year.

Read more about the Riello UPS and RWE partnership from page 36 of June’s edition of Electrical Review