Does the rise of smart grids offer data centres the ideal opportunity to rethink the role of their UPS power supplies?
With UK electricity generation plummeting to its lowest level since 1994, the country’s energy mix is changing. Out goes nuclear and coal. In their place wind, solar, and other renewable sources.
We explain to Worldwide Independent Power (WiP) why a shift to decentralised smart grids provides a window of opportunity for mission-critical sites.
Traditionally, a UPS is such a facility’s ultimate insurance policy against damaging power disruption. In reality, uninterruptible power supplies often sit idle, an underutilised asset.
Using their batteries to store and re-use power offers the possibility to transform them into a ‘virtual power plant’. In practical terms, it’s storing cheaper energy to use at more expensive peak times.
This demand side response helps balance the National Grid. But it only does so through incentivising large-scale energy users to adjust their behaviour.
With larger data centres requiring 30 GWh of electricity a year – that’s £3 million worth – they’re a prime target.
Finding Out About Frequency Response
Up to now, mission-critical sites have shown reluctance to jump on the smart grid bandwagon. Resilience is their top priority. However, with the reliability of lithium-ion batteries, in particular, easing those fears, is the tide about to turn?
We explain the wide variety of mechanisms available for data centres keen to make the most of their smart gird-ready UPS.
Reserve Services offer payments to businesses that can cover unexpected lack of generation or a sudden increase in demand. For example, there’s Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR). This provides guaranteed payments over a two year period. Participants must reduce supply or turn up generation with 10 minutes’ notice, three times a week.
There are also Frequency Response incentives to help the grid remain at a stable frequency around 50 Hertz. Firm Frequency Response (FFR) requires a 10 MW demand drop or increase in generation. But the National Grid needs an average of 800 MW of FFR capacity at any time. Consistent, lucrative demand that UPS power can help fulfil.
Learn how to fully unleash your UPS power on page 43 in the January-February edition of WiP magazine