Eaton UPS-as-a-reserve chosen for Swedish power grid pilot


Power management company Eaton has announced the first pilot project of its recently launched UPS-as-a-Reserve (UPSaaR) solution. Svenska kraftnät, a Swedish electricity transmission system operator, has selected the Spring service by Fortum, an energy provider in the Nordic and Baltic countries, and Eaton’s UPSaaR to trial how the technologies help to balance Sweden’s power grid.

Eaton’s UPSaaR technology, which launched at the end of 2017, is the first of its kind for the data centre industry and enables operators to earn from their investments in UPS, while helping energy providers balance sustainable energy demands. It enables data centre operators to immediately respond to grid-level power demands to keep frequencies within allowed boundaries to avoid grid-wide power outages. This is a major step forward in delivering greener energy, as renewable energy is harder to predict and production can be more volatile – making it harder for energy providers to balance electricity supply.

Svenska kraftnät has selected the service for a pilot project researching the utilisation of energy storage for demand flexibility. Starting in the first quarter of 2018, Fortum will offer 0.1MW of UPS capacity to Svenska kraftnät’s frequency-controlled disturbance reserve. This reserve activates automatically and quickly if there is a drop in the electricity network’s frequency.

“Svenska kraftnät has recognised the benefits of Eaton’s UPS-as-a-Reserve solution in helping stabilise the power grid,” says Jussi Vihersalo, business development manager, Eaton. “Sweden is at the forefront of renewable energy technologies and we’re convinced that it will be a model that other countries and organisations will emulate in the coming months and beyond. From an industry perspective, this news is the next step in enabling data centre operators across the region to offer their capacity back to the grid.”

Eaton’s UPSaaR technology gives data centre operators an opportunity to work with energy providers to momentarily reduce the power demands of the data centre and even return power to the grid. A data centre could expect to raise up to €50,000 per MW of power allocated to grid support per year.

Mike Byrnes, director data centres, Eaton EMEA, comments on what this Swedish pilot project represents for the UK data centre market:

“The energy demand and supply model in the data centre market is starting to change. We are at an inflection point. More flexible battery technologies, new alternative or green energy providers and regulatory pressure on the use of diesel combustion engines mean that new avenues are being explored by data centre operators. They need to meet increasing demands, maintain uptime but also look at power efficiency on a grid scale versus a building scale.

At a grid level, an ecosystem is evolving and data centre operators have a critical position – even a responsibility of leadership. The energy systems of the near future will certainly be more diverse but most data centre operators will still have to store vast amounts of power. Eaton’s UPS technology is uniquely placed at the intersection of energy sources and markets. As an existing investment for data centre operators, a small evolution in system design can see even existing Eaton UPS technology become a flexible control system, opening up a new commercial horizons. This ranges from new revenue streams and enhanced operating margins to an even better value propositions to their customers. The potential is huge.

Rather than just demanding power, with Eaton UPS-as-a-reserve, data centres can be in complete control of their energy with the option to both support the grid and be compensated for it. On the grid side, Svenska kraftnät has recognised the benefits but it is not alone. Large data centre operators, including many in the UK, are sitting up and taking notice too.

With data centres currently responsible for 3% of global energy use, we’re seeing an industry-wide push to move from traditional sources to using more green power reserves. As experts predict that data centres will consume roughly treble the amount of electricity by 2027, data centres need to consider implementing technology which could accelerate green energy production. Providing more flexibility to the grid will do just that. Faced with exploring those alternative energy sources, UK data centre operators also have to consider how best to future-proof their own operations and ensure sufficient – and sustainable – power for them and their customers in future.”

Eaton is sponsoring the first DCD Energy Smart conference in Stockholm, on March 13. This event will bring together the power and digital infrastructure industries. At the conference, Eaton and Fortum will present a keynote ‘Green Money in Grey Spaces’ on how UPSs can act as virtual power plants and generate revenues for a data centre.