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DISTRIBUTED ENERGY: site resilience, or an

opportunity for growth?

Russell Park of British Gas Business considers the opportunities for Datacentres in the changing energy landscape.

As the debate over the state of the UK economy in the wake of the Brexit vote continues to dominate the news agenda, so too another topic isn’t far from commentators’ minds: energy.

Against a backdrop of closing power stations and a creaking electricity network, the issue of how to secure energy supplies that are not only affordable but kind on the climate is one that weighs heavy on the minds of many.

“The average

datacentre now typically runs an IT load capacity of 10 megawatts.”

Owners and operators of critical infrastructure are increasingly turning to distributed energy as a strategy to address the potential future energy gap and reduce pressure on the networks. Large users of energy like datacentres, are also recognising the opportunity to work with suppliers to harness new solutions that improve the resilience of their sites, but it needn’t stop there.

THE OPPORTUNITY The average datacentre now typically

runs an IT load capacity of 10 megawatts, consuming just over 105 million kilowatt hours of electricity in a year. No surprise then that with an annual cost of £11.5million, affordability should sit alongside energy security as a key priority for execs. Carbon is also a factor with the highest estimates for emissions associated with northern Europe’s datacentres resting at around 32,500,000 tons of CO2

per year.

As well as tackling cost and carbon, distributed energy also offers an opportunity for businesses to

unlock new sources of revenue and investment as the UK inches closer to becoming the single largest market in Europe for datacentres.


DISTRIBUTED ENERGY? Supported by smart technology, distributed energy represents a shift away from a small number of large centralised power plants to a more varied mix of lower carbon and renewable assets that place energy generation and storage at the heart of where it’s needed.


Helped by government incentives and regulatory policies, many datacentres are starting to realise opportunities to flex their demand as a way to unlock additional revenue streams. They can do this by connecting their assets to their local Distribution Network Operator (DNO), and optimising them to both reduce non-essential energy demand and participate in ‘dispatches’ to reduce demand when needed. This also provides savings on energy tariffs, which are achieved by reducing the need for peak-price energy in the red rate banding and at the triads.


should sit alongside energy security as a key priority.”

New business models are also emerging that encourage businesses to become power generators in their own right by making their own flexible capacity available to the national grid.

By upgrading existing back-up generators or even installing new assets such as combined heat and power (CHP) plants, datacentres could not only secure a new revenue stream as a ‘peaking plant’ but potentially double the amount of load capacity on a site that otherwise had no opportunity for expansion. The business case for this can be very attractive to investors with double digit IRRs and paybacks of less than 1.5 years.

Whatever the business priority, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for datacentres, so we’re working to develop bespoke distributed energy models to suit individual client needs.

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