Microsoft helps Irish power supply

Banks of lithium-ion batteries at a¬†Microsoft data centre in Dublin are set to be used to help support the growth of renewables on Ireland’s power grid.

Vole says the batteries – which typically provide backup power in case of emergency – have been certified, tested and approved for connection to the grid and are part of the data centre’s UPS.

Grid-interactive UPS systems could allow operator EirGrid to cut two million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2025, according to Baringa, an energy advisory firm commissioned by Microsoft.

Baringa partner Mark Turner said that it means that the Irish can turn down gas-fired power stations which would need to be turned on to provide power that would now be supplied by the UPS.

More than 400 wind farms in Ireland collectively generate more than 35 per cent of the island’s electricity.¬†But the intensity of the wind in Ireland fluctuates throughout the day and over the course of the seasons, which causes variable power production.

Microsoft says the new project will be a part of the solution to this problem and has teamed up with Enel X to deliver it later this year.

Mycah Gambrell-Ermak, a principal programme manager at Microsoft, said: “In areas where municipalities or utilities are trying to get away from fossil-based solutions, if there is a dip in renewable reserves, what we can do as a company is take our large amount of load and we can reduce our load by putting our own batteries to use.

“Utilities, by way of aggregators, can give us a signal that tells us to discharge our batteries to compensate for our load, which then takes the burden off of the grid.”

The project has been planned for several years – Microsoft began exploring ways to use the batteries in 2017.

“The concept was to use the UPS, which is providing continuous protection, change the controller on the UPS and provide services back to the grid”, said Ehsan Nasr, a senior design researcher who works in Microsoft’s data centre advanced development group.