Microgrids and Data Centers

Data Center operators are looking to reduce or eliminate onsite diesel generators. But what will take their place?

On November 4th, Data Center Frontier and Schneider Electric explored how microgrids can provide sustainable onsite power for Data Centers. Microgrids are proven technology that gives Data Centers the ability to generate their own renewable and sustainable power onsite. They also allow Data Centers to operate independently of the grid during outages and times of crisis. While other facilities such as military bases, hospitals, and universities are exploring the concept of an advanced microgrid, Data Centers have been slow to warm up to the concept.

The discussion covered topics like Data Center power options and the limitations, risks, and misconceptions of implementing microgrids. This session focused on environmental sustainability. Sustainability is no longer a “nice to have” – it is now a “must have.” Moreover, industry leaders are driving requirements to their Data Center providers. Sustainable onsite power generation can replace diesel (aka microgrid). Microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A microgrid enables multiple use cases beyond resiliency and sustainability. Many factors need to be considered when thinking about a microgrid such as evaluating DER options, access to NG, H2, Wind, PV, innovation appetite, regulatory landscape, risk tolerance, and customer demand.

This webinar was hosted by Data Center Frontier’s Editor-in-Chief, Rich Miller. It also included guest speakers such as Carsten Baumann / Director Strategic Initiative & Solution Architect for Schneider Electric and Kevin Normandeau / Publisher Microgrid Knowledge.

To become more energy efficient, some Data Centers are reducing capacity safety margins and system redundancy. This in turn increases the importance of proactive maintenance. And advanced microgrid can help address these issues. A complete microgrid solution intelligently coordinates a variety of onsite, distributed energy generation assets to optimize costs and power stability, including the option to ‘island’ from the utility grid to avoid exposure to outages or disturbances.

The key takeaways of this webinar were that the reduction of Scope 1 emissions is possible today without increase of risk and financial commitment (entry point), microgrids are a well understood entity (just not in Data Centers…yet), and grid challenges and customer demand may require innovative solutions.

If you missed the webinar, you can watch the session at your convenience “On Demand.”