Power management company, Eaton, has recently unveiled the first Uninterruptible Power Supply-as-a-Reserve (UPSaaR) pilot at its headquarters in Dublin. Carly Wills caught up with new EMEA segment leader of data centres and IT, Ciarán Forde, ahead of the event to find out more

requires, it can actually divert and start to use its own stored energy, either to export power back onto the grid, or to immediately take load off the grid and use its stored energy to maintain the facilities that it’s in place for. That kind of two-way relationship (as opposed to just one-way consuming power) opens up a tremendous opportunity. The national grid seeks more and more

Carly Wills: Can you please tell us about the UPSaaR pilot? Ciarán Forde: Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) systems are an essential and critical part of any data centre infrastructure – that’s the device that will interface with the grid and the gensets, condition the power, and also manage the storage energy that will protect the facility in the case of a power outage. The stored energy in the battery bank

associated with the UPS allows for a very rapid switch to the standby power, and that standby power gives enough time for the onsite back-up generators to kick in and build up the energy levels to feed the overall data centre environment. That’s their primary role – they are

there as a critical power and conditioning back up support system, so that the uptime can never become compromised. A lot of critical applications run on data centres that can not afford any outage. As we have such an insatiable

appetite for everything tech, the IT industry is using more and more of the world’s energy. This has got people thinking; are we just consumers and part of the global issue we all now face, in terms of the consumption of fossil fuels and energy? Or can we do something to give back? The engineers at Eaton looked at this and thought that instead of just consuming power, the company could actually help to decarbonise its energy. In short, it can become greener. In Ireland in particular, Eaton found a

unique opportunity to demonstrate what it calls a ‘UPS-as-a-Reserve’. What that means is that, instead of just drawing power from the grid, when demand

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carbon neutral renewable energy sources, either solar or wind. But, they can only go so far, due to their variability. The sun isn’t always shining, and the wind isn’t always blowing, so what can be done to manage that variability, whether it’s a power surge or a drop-off in power? That variation can cause an instability on an overall national grid of power. The UPSaaR – as the name implies –

is a backup to the overall grid, so that if the grid takes more and more of this renewable energy, the UPSaaR is there to mitigate against that instability. It enables a rapid frequency response from electrical infrastructures on the edge of the power network - coming off and moving back on to the network. This helps load balance the overall electrical infrastructure. This functionality has the ability to

allow the national grid to adopt much higher levels of renewable energy than imagined. On occasions in 2018, up to 65 per cent of the energy on the Irish grid was renewable.

Ireland’s national grid, EirGrid, has a

specific set of objectives regarding sustainability, and has set some strong targets for itself. EirGrid has recognised that if it wants to achieve these targets, it needs large facilities to help accommodate these levels of renewables. Now organisations such as

pharmaceutical plants or data centres, which have invested in their own infrastructure and stored energy systems, can ‘green the grid’. The cherry on top is that the national grid will actually pay them for that service. This effectively allows large

organisations that traditionally consume a lot of energy to become the ‘heroes’, instead of just being high consumers of power. And, because the grid pays for this as a service, the organisations that participate on the grid can offset the cost of infrastructure, maintenance and upgrades to those facilities by the revenue stream that they get for participating.

CW: How does it work? CF: The technology is not a product launch for Eaton; it is only a firmware/software upgrade to the existing equipment. This software upgrade was actually planned for in 2004, when the electrical capability was implemented into the product. This capability is called a directional rectifier and it allows the energy to flow in two

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