Most nations still rely on huge thermal and nuclear power stations for their base load. Utilities favored these until the 21st Century climate change crisis because of short-term economies of scale. However when a giant unit fails, the grid is under threat because it takes too long for an alternative unit to come on line. Energy economists are asking could data centers replace peaking gas stations?
Could Data Centers Really Do This?
E&E News reporter, Benjamin Storrow, reports a Microsoft engineering team has gathered around a shipping container at their data center. They are testing whether the extensive battery systems could successfully interact with the grid.
They want to know could data centers’ giant batteries smooth small demand spikes and drops that are a regular occurrence on grids. Their job is tedious and exacting, Benjamin Storrow confirms. However, the earth would be a little greener if we gradually phased out gas peaking plants. If we could bring the wind and sun into play that would really be something.
Could a Data Center Become an Energy Asset?
“In the future, you don’t have a data center or a power plant. It’s something in the middle. A data plant, for example,” said Sean James, Microsoft director of energy research. “Where this thing isn’t just a load on the grid, it’s an asset on the grid.
“We’ve been doing a lot of calculations,” he continues, “working with partners to get it just right, but to see it actually going is a special moment for us.” Tech firms like Amazon and Microsoft are already building wind and solar farms to reinforce their energy integrity. There is big money riding on this. Grid energy is expensive at the quantities they buy.
What do you think? Could data centers morph from energy consumers to energy contributors using grid storage? We can’t think of a single reason why they ought not.
Preview Image: Data Center Batteries