Microsoft has agreed to lease the battery packs that power its Dublin data center to the Irish government. These huge lithium-ion battery packs will help stabilize the use of electricity generated by Irish wind farms.
Ireland has about 400 wind farms that together generate more than 35 percent of the island’s electricity. While wind provides clean energy, they do pose challenges for power generation and distribution companies. The strength of the wind fluctuates throughout the day or throughout the season, resulting in considerable variation in the amount of electricity generated.
Every grid operator that relies on fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas must maintain what is called a spinning reserve. This excess capacity helps distribution companies respond quickly to changes in demand.
In Ireland, Microsoft’s Data Center Battery, which consists primarily of large lithium-ion batteries, will provide these services to help reduce the need to maintain rotating reserves in power plants. Microsoft commissioned a study to analyze the potential impact of the technology. The study claims that Microsoft’s batteries could reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 2 million tons by 2025.
Data centers must operate at a very high level of reliability, with some claiming 99.999 percent uptime. To achieve this, data center operators rely in part on the batteries in the UPS (uninterruptible power supply). It goes without saying that the UPS needs to be on at all times. Microsoft has partnered with Eaton, an intelligent power management company, to develop and test grid-interactive UPS. together, the two companies have successfully used data center UPS for large grids that receive power from renewable sources.
Almost every grid operator in the world is exploring renewable energy sources. However, obtaining a stable power input and providing a reliable supply are two key challenges. Huge battery packs can act as intermediaries. Microsoft’s contribution can help the Irish government effectively balance supply and demand while continuing to generate more electricity from green and renewable sources.
As countries gradually build up their renewable energy production, they will need larger battery packs. In addition to helping the world go green, it is likely that Microsoft is exploring another source of revenue.