Eaton develops new way to utilise UPS for grid support

Pictured at the annoucenemnt was Craig McDonnell, Eaton, Ciarán Forde, Eaton, and Peter Connolly, Enel X (Image: Eaton)

UPS as a Reserve aims to balance power grid for greater renewable utilisation

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30 May 2019 | 0

Power management giant Eaton has developed a new energy management system that allows energy-intensive industries, such as data centres, to participate in efforts to help stabilise the power grid and support the use of more renewable power.

Data centre operators tend to want renewable power to support their green credentials. Renewable power in Ireland is mainly wind power, and these heavy users can exacerbate the intermittent nature of this power source.

“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

Eaton has developed a system whereby the uninterruptable power sources (UPS) can become two-way exchangers of energy to help stabilise power grids, helping to smooth the spikes of both supply and demand.

Eaton said its Energy Aware UPS is based on custom developed reserve power technology, with the first commercial application hosted in global headquarters in Dublin, developed from a pilot in co-operation with global energy management partner Enel X. It is participating in Ireland’s grid operator EirGrid’s DS3 system services programme, which supports renewable integration through the management of grid frequency.

Ciarán Forde, segment leader for data centre and IT, EMEA, Eaton, said the company is “conscious of industrial obligation to decarbonise our energy”. This thinking has led to the company actively incorporating strategies to “green the grid” that is hoped will have the effect of an “industry-wide change in attitudes”.

According to Janne Paananen, technology manager, EMEA, Eaton, Ireland will become an important analogue for grid development in Europe, as we have already more or less achieved the European goal of 32% renewable power by 2030. Consequently, the issues already being dealt with here will provide important insights and guidance for the wider European efforts.

Paananen said the greater the reliance on renewables, the greater the volatility of supply. Ireland, with its heavy concentration of data centres, some of which can consume 100MW a piece, is dealing with the issues that will inform the wider experience.

Paananen said there is a gradual change in how the issue of power is viewed. In the past, it was seen as a commodity, whereas the new view is that it can be treated as an asset. By using the UPS systems that are already in use in the likes of data centres, but also major manufacturing facilities, pharmaceutical plants etc, the owners can facilitate greater use of renewable sources without the volatility issues, benefit from revenue for supplying back to the grid and increase competitiveness through faster deployment to customers.

This growing digitalisation of energy, said Peter Connolly, head of sales, Enel X in Ireland, is part of its rapid evolution in recent years.

“Digitalisation and customer centricity will change the sector paradigm,” said Connolly.

“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 de-carbonise the energy we use. This technology turns the tables and literally means industry can give back,” said Forde. “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.”

Eaton said 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. Its proof of concept with Enel X and EirGrid at its headquarters has demonstrated how Energy Aware manages critical loads and mission critical applications, reduces Eaton’s energy consumption and improves grid stabilisation. Pilot projects have proven that the technology provides a viable and fast-acting power reserve to the grid while maintaining the UPS’s primary function of securing electrical loads, further de-risking any instability from the country’s increasing use of renewable generation.

Eaton said its Energy Aware UPS was commissioned in April and is already supporting the Irish grid, with first earnings to be recognised in October 2019. The solution is offered with new Eaton UPSs or as an upgrade for existing Eaton UPS customers.

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