Data centers, Emergency Power and Crowdsourcing

PowerDCGrid

Data Centers are helping to deliver emergency power to the power grid with the use of a crowdsourcing business model.

A very specific element of an electrical power grid is that there is no storage. Therefore demand and supply must be the same, in equilibrium, else there is the risk that this power grid shuts down. So in rare situations where the difference between production and demand (= load) is greater than desirable, and when the market for regulating and reserve capacity for power balancing fails there is a ‘power emergency’.

A large number of the high-voltage networks in Europe are linked together. The operators of these networks have agreed to maintain the balance between production and demand (consumption of electricity) in this interconnected grid. On the basis of these agreements the participants have to demonstrate their commitment by holding reserves in order to steer in situations where the grid is not sufficiently balanced.

The emergency power that is needed is obtained in the domestic market for regulating and reserve-capacity. In addition to this TenneT, a European electricity transmission system operator (TSO), also want to use the emergency power capacity of private parties such as Data Centers. Therefore TenneT started the NL Emergency Power Pool Ltd.

NL Emergency Power Pool is a joint venture of companies with an emergency power capacity of more than 500 kW. Its participants receive ample compensation for the occasional provision of generating capacity. The participants retains full access to their own backup provision. NL Emergency Power Pool claims that the one-of costs are earned back in one month and that the variable costs are reimbursed.

The pool contains various companies, particularly data centers but also hospitals, and water companies. Currently the total size is 40 MW and is still growing. TenneT demands for 20 MW capacity at least, with virtually full availability. Something which is usually only achievable with a resource pool.

NL Emergency Power Pool as a pool aggregator is the single point of contact for TenneT. The aggregator organizes everything, including the central control and metering. The control is fully automated. NL Emergency Power Pool will contract with TenneT less power than the sum of the individual capacities of the participants. In this way NL Emergency Power Pool can fulfill its obligations.

The pool helps TenneT in its statutory duty to ensure the reliability of the national power grid to guarantee. With the contracted emergency power TenneT can also support other national grids when they have problems. The company’s goal is an optimal result for the pool participants, within realistic economic preconditions. NL Emergency Power Pool operates independently and is based on a cooperation contract with TenneT.

By creating this pool of emergency power capacity Tennet is using a crowdsourcing business model. The sum of many individual, relatively small, emergency power systems creates a large virtual emergency power system that is serving the needs TenneT. The use of over-contracting makes this virtual resource pool more robust.

The participating Data Centers becoming power prosumers; producing consumers who besides consuming electricity also are creating electricity.

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