back to article Eaton, Microsoft to outfit datacenters with 'grid-interactive' UPS tech

Microsoft and power management specialist Eaton are working together on "grid-interactive UPS technology" using Eaton's EnergyAware UPS systems to help electricity grids with the transition to renewable energy. The two companies already had a partnership where Eaton used Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform for …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Perpetuum mobile

    So if the Data Centre does not generate energy, why it will take more energy than it needs to then later feed it back to the grid?

    Isn't the real reason to manipulate the energy prices?

    I mean it's like scalping - you buy the stock you don't need and then sell with a huge mark up when the entity you bought from can't fill the demand.

    Seems like Microsoft is again up to no good.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Perpetuum mobile

      Yes but then you have places such as "Dinorwig Power Station". They pump water upwards into a lake when power prices are cheapest on the UK grid and then they start emptying and producing power when demands are greatest on the grid therefore earning them money.

      Peronally I would prefer this type of storage over batteries.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Caveat energiser

    the datacenter can use its energy storage system (ESS) resources to supply some of the power needed by the datacenter's IT infrastructure during periods of peak demand [...] Alternatively, grid-interactive datacenters can also feed energy back to the grid

    So if an excessive peak in local demand triggers a substation failure - cutting off municipal power to the data centre - the UPS will no longer be fully charged?

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Caveat energiser

      Yep. On windless days (so the grid's been topping up from your datacentre), when your feeder is "demand-managed", the servers will go off with a big THUNK as the UPS batteries are now flat.

      Better have good rolling backups!

      1. Terje

        Re: Caveat energiser

        Unless the system is crap I hope that would not be the case, but you would certainly need significantly more battery capacity in the UPS to either be able to offload some of your demand during peak hours, or to backfeed into the grid without negatively affecting your own security.

        The sad fact is that from a grid perspective most of the renewable energy is crap since it is unreliable and fluctuates to much both over shorter and longer timespans so that it becomes hard to keep the grid voltage / frequency stable.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gut reaction: what? That's stupid, feeding power to the grid from my UPS leaves me vulnerable.

    More reasoned reaction: hmmm, if a relatively small use of my battery capacity means the grid stays up, that's the best case for my reliability.

    Those of us who are not power distribution engineers don't appreciate how big a deal it would be to have the ability to shed some load for about 15 minutes. The faster the load shedding can happen in response to a request (100s of msec would be awesome, seconds would be great, minutes would still be very helpful) the more valuable the ability is.

    Similar benefits would come from dispatchable reactive power support (voltage support).

    Both of those are something that datacenter scale UPS units would be able to provide if the supporting controls and communications were there (load shedding being easier than making VARs)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not quite as simple as it seems.

      "how big a deal it would be to have the ability to shed some load for about 15 minutes. The faster the load shedding can happen in response to a request (100s of msec would be awesome, seconds would be great, minutes would still be very helpful) the more valuable the ability is."

      See also e.g. the UK's small number of grid-scale pumped storage stations such as Dinorwig. Oiriginally built decades ago to smooth out demand on the scale of a few hours, to allow the grid to operate sensibly with the inflexible output from nuclear generators, Dinorwig has a response time in secinds *and* high power connectivity (output of a GW or so, from cold, in a few seconds. Not a few tens of MW) which is now marketed to provide a "grid scale fast response frequency regulation support" resource.

      Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station

      Dinorwig is no longer used as a grid-scale energy supplement for a few hours at a time. "leaving it to the market" meant that job got delegated to fields full of non-functioning grid-scale diesel generators a few years ago (insane, but potentially profitable).

      Basic load shedding at a domestic level could be done quite simply and cheaply with the kind of "dynamic demand" management technology that's been around (but never deployed at scale) for years. See e.g.

      https://www.dynamicdemand.co.uk/

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