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Microsoft data centers to support renewable energy growth on the power grid

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Strong points :

  • Microsoft will deploy its “grid-interactive uninterruptible power supply technology” in the Dublin data center to demonstrate that these types of technologies can help decarbonize power grids around the world.
  • Microsoft says a large swing in power generation requires grid stabilization services, and its grid-interactive UPS technology allows facilities such as data centers to feed power back into the grid from of their backup energy storage systems.

Global software giant Microsoft has announced that it will deploy its “grid-interactive UPS technology” in the company-managed data center in Dublin, Ireland, later in 2022. The aim is to demonstrate that these types of technologies can help decarbonize power grids around the world.

Microsoft claims that renewable energy from 400 wind farms accounts for more than 35% of Ireland’s electricity supply. This capacity will reach 80% by the end of this decade. The tech giant says a large swing in power generation requires grid stabilization services and its grid-interactive UPS technology allows facilities such as data centers to feed back some of the power into the grid from their backup energy storage systems. Energy storage systems are actually large banks of lithium-ion batteries that are managed by a UPS system, Microsoft said.

Christian Belady, vice president of Microsoft, said: “We have this battery asset in the data center which is right there. Why not offer it to the network and find a dynamic way to manage it as a dual-use asset and thus promote greater efficiency and better use of assets? »

Microsoft said it was working closely with EirGrid, which is Ireland’s electricity grid operator. The entity manages a network services market that favors non-carbon-emitting solutions. Microsoft is entering this market through Enel X, an energy service provider. Enel X turns industrial and commercial organizations such as Microsoft into “virtual power plants” on power grids.

This system was not possible with traditional technologies such as lead-acid batteries. UPS systems and lithium-ion batteries have created new possibilities. At the same time, UPS systems need to be smart enough to interact with the power grid as well as data center energy management systems, as this will help coordinate the flow of electricity.

Microsoft also said grid-interactive UPS systems instead of the grid services currently provided by fossil-fuel power plants in Ireland will help eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million metric tons. The software company says this represents around 20% of the emissions the Irish power sector is expected to generate by the middle of this decade.