Data centres and airports can now give energy back to the grid in Ireland

30 May 20191.15k Views

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From left: Ciarán Forde, Eaton; Craig McDonnell, Eaton; and Peter Connolly, Enel X Ireland. Image: Fennells

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Homes and businesses could be soon be powered by excess energy from data centres and other large consumers of electricity.

A novel new platform from Eaton, Enel X and EirGrid enables energy-intensive industries in Ireland to help stabilise the grid and contribute to more renewable power.

This could see industries such as data centres, electronics and pharma integrate with the grid and, instead of just consuming power, provide it back for use in homes and businesses.

‘This is an innovation that challenges traditional thinking; it transforms a large electrical infrastructure into a network that can contribute to the grid and not only consume power’
– CIARÁN FORDE

Eaton Energy Aware UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is based on Eaton’s reserve power technology.

The platform has been successfully piloted at Eaton’s global headquarters in Dublin in cooperation with its global energy management partner, Enel X.

It is participating in Irish grid operator EirGrid’s DS3 system services programme, which supports renewable integration through the management of grid frequency.

Steaming towards a low-carbon future

Eaton Energy Aware UPS was commissioned in April and is already supporting the Irish grid, with first earnings to be recognised in October 2019.

“As individuals and as an industry, we are all aware of our obligation to rethink our role as power consumers. Industry continues to struggle to make efficiency gains and to decarbonise the energy we use. This technology turns the tables and literally means industry can give back,” said Ciarán Forde, EMEA segment leader of data centre and IT at Eaton.

“This is an innovation that challenges traditional thinking; it transforms a large electrical infrastructure into a network that can contribute to the grid and not only consume power. The primary role of the infrastructure doesn’t change but, by enabling organisations to take part in EirGrid’s DS3 system services, it offsets its costs and helps them hit green targets by enabling renewable energy.”

Forde said that Ireland’s electricity system is primed to test and launch the new solution because of its mix of renewables, its progressive orientation towards technology and its population of large power consumers, including many of the world’s largest data centre providers.

Eaton Energy Aware UPS uses Eaton’s UPS-as-a-Reserve (UPSaaR) technology, which has been in development since 2016 and has been successfully trialled in Norway, Sweden and the UK.

The solution uses Eaton’s reserve UPS to enable organisations to seamlessly support grid stability while still powering critical applications. This helps grid operators to stabilise emergency fluctuations in system frequency – these occur as a result of increasing variable renewable energy. Eaton has worked to bring the solution to market by partnering with Enel X, which enables organisations to take part in EirGrid’s DS3 system services and earn revenue for doing so.

“The potential of the energy sector’s transformation is dependent on an ecosystem of proactive energy consumers who see opportunity in using their energy differently – more intelligently – than they do right now,” said Peter Connolly, head of sales at Enel X in Ireland.

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com