Some of the world’s leading technology companies are committed to providing 100% renewable power for their data centers. Many government departments and organizations are also committed to reducing carbon emissions. However, the power used in the data center facilities they operate is not entirely from renewable energy. Many people didn’t realize that their data center actually deployed diesel generators to provide backup power.
With the increase of blackouts caused by bad weather, the diesel generators in the data center run more frequently than before. In addition, diesel generators need to be tested for start-up to ensure that they are ready to provide backup power during power outages. Coupled with the exponential growth of cloud computing services and the resulting construction of more large-scale data centers with power capacity of more than 100 MW, this situation leads to an increase in the carbon footprint, and the emission of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants from diesel generators causes air pollution. Now it’s time for the backup power supply of the data center to meet the requirements of green energy saving.
Adopt alternative solutions
Although power purchase agreements (PPA) signed by technology companies and wind and solar power generation transactions provide new renewable energy power, almost all of the backup power comes from diesel generators owned and operated by technology companies. Even if biodiesel is used, these diesel generators will still produce local pollution and carbon emissions, and under normal circumstances, the protection of diesel generators is very important The agreement does not allow the use of 100% biodiesel under any circumstances. Therefore, the power of the data center does not come from 100% clean energy or renewable energy, which is the first problem. It is puzzling that these technology companies continue to use decades old diesel generators as their backup power supply even though they promise to adopt clean energy power completely.
At the same time, the power purchase agreement (PPA) they signed brought a second problem. The intermittence of solar power generation and wind power generation brings operation pressure to the power grid, which requires the integration of these renewable energy sources, because the fluctuation of power supply is difficult to meet the demand of the power grid when the sunlight or wind power is insufficient. This kind of real-time power supply-demand balance behavior needs to balance and integrate renewable energy power through grid stability service.
As the saying goes, “where there are problems, there are opportunities.” In this case, a solution can solve both problems at the same time. On site natural gas power generation facilities using clean natural gas or renewable natural gas or biogas as as fuel are a more modern method. Both fuels will significantly reduce air pollution and will operate with a zero carbon footprint to advance the goal of 100% renewable energy. When power companies or grid operators need to integrate renewable energy or help manage the grid, these clean energy power generation facilities can also solve the second problem by providing key grid stability services.
It needs to be clear that these generators can always provide backup power supply in case of grid failure, but in most cases, they can also be used to help provide grid stability services. This virtuous cycle provides the required backup power supply, enables the clean energy development company to achieve its 100% renewable target, and also provides the required services to maintain the stability of the power grid, and effectively solves these two problems.
From a financial point of view, this is actually a kind of idle capital asset, which can play a beneficial role in the power grid, which means that over time, it can become a source of income, thereby reducing the life cycle cost. The data center can now use 100% clean energy, while providing help for the safe operation of the power grid.
Can the backup generator with clean natural gas provide reliable backup power so that the data center can continue to provide essential cloud computing services? Data center engineers may be familiar with natural gas power generation facilities, but traditional gas turbines are too slow to start as part of a backup power solution. The reciprocating gas generator with 10 second start-up time, transient voltage and frequency response can provide backup power as fast as diesel generator, and now it has been launched in the market. In addition, due to its higher operating frequency to provide power grid stability service, and built-in inherent load test, it can provide higher reliability.
Editor in charge ajx