New microgrid solution keeps sustainable power flowing to and from data centres

Innovative microgrid solutions allow data centres to run on their own energy sources with a reduced carbon footprint enabling additional revenue streams.

As data centers are increasingly moving from consumers to prosumers, ABB is pioneering new microgrid solutions to pave the way for data centers to have self-generation options and to enable grid services while ensuring the mission critical of power availability is fulfilled. The solutions are covering microgrids to be able to operate both on-grid and off-grid with different options depending on the energy mix of the data center as well as the possibility to actively interact with the grid. The solutions are fully modular and scalable, allowing for existing and new emerging technologies such as fuel cells to work in harmony and to move towards a carbon-free operation of the data center.

The groundbreaking new microgrid solutions for data centers offer more choice about how and where they get their power and how it is managed. Using a modular approach, ABB’s microgrid solutions allow data centers to operate fully off-grid, powered by their own solar or wind generation coupled with battery energy storage system (BESS), or partially off-grid by utilizing both renewables and power networks, to make them cleaner and more cost efficient to run.

ABB’s microgrid solution flexibility allows data centers to get the most benefits of the system depending on the level in terms of functionalities, hardware and software. As an example, a data center equipped with the state-of-the-art ABB’s HiPerGuard UPS product for Medium Voltage (MV) can provide different functionalities such as demand response with no risk to uptime. Most of the time, UPS energy storage systems lie unused, or store more energy than is needed, but with the added functionalities provided by the ABB’s microgrid solution, data centers can enable a revenue stream by providing that unused capacity to the grid to cover shortfalls in energy generation. A minimum state-of-charge on the UPS ensures the capacity required to restart in a blackout is always protected.

The new microgrid solution is designed for expandability and can be coupled with a fuel cell and BESS to provide back up power, which could one day replace diesel generators. It allows at the same time to operate back-up power generators in parallel with the energy storage and possible on-site renewable generation.

As pioneering in new technologies, ABB has completed the proof of concept for a new solution in partnership with AFC Energy, using an ammonia-based fuel cell and the latest power conversion technologies. It is more energy dense than typical hydrogen solutions, so just one 20ft tank offers eight days’ running time for a 250kW load. A typical

hydrogen tube trailer solution requires 12 40ft tanks to match this performance, so ammonia takes up considerably less space on site.

Danel Turk, Data Center Solution Portfolio Manager for ABB, said: “Data centers account for around 2 percent of global consumption of electricity, but this flow of power doesn’t have to just be one way. Data centers can support and adapt to this shifting energy landscape with new technologies which allow them to be both consumers and prosumers. We are really excited to share details of the pilot schemes we have run to help operators cut emissions and support the transition to greater use of renewable energy generation.”

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