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INTERVIEW FEATURE


directions. Now the firmware has been enhanced and proven to be very robust and ready for market applications. The grid supplies the energy, which is


processed and cleaned through the UPS, and passed into the facility. But in addition to being passed into the facility, that same energy is used to energise battery banks. The stored energy is used to make


those facilities using the UPSaaR more resilient - the stored energy being managed by the UPSaaR can enable those facilities to come on and off the grid. In fact, they never leave the grid. But it allows the user to switch to the stored energy to run the facility, to take some pressure off the grid. The general market for that is called


the frequency containment market, where voltage and frequency drops on the grid are monitored, and then immediately responded to. It’s a dynamic, flexible relationship – the grid will send a signal saying ‘I need your UPS to take an action’ and then it will take that action and use its stored energy instead of the grid energy, helping to stabilise the grid. And then the power can be re-exported onto the grid, as long as the local regulations are in place to enable that. Another aspect that isn’t often utilised


in the UPS is ‘peak shaving’, which is when the stored energy is used at times of high tariff. At certain times of the day, energy costs more, so if the stored energy can be used during this time, costs can be reduced. So an intelligent UPS can execute peak shaving, but it can also carry out frequency containment for the national grid and allow more renewables onto the grid. It is a modular technology too –


especially in the data centre world, people tend to build their infrastructure in a modular way. They’ll start off with, say, 500 kilowatts up to a megawatt, and they will grow their data centre in a modular way. So as these power modules are added, the overall ability to participate back onto the grid also grows with that: a higher contribution is required.


CW: What is Eaton doing to put this into action? CF: This sounds wonderful in theory, but what Eaton has decided to do is ‘walk the walk’ – it is taking its own electrical infrastructure and UPS at its global headquarters in Dublin, connecting it to the Irish grid and making it available for frequency containment and rapid frequency response. This UPSaaR is not a one-off; it was unveiled in June and it will remain as an active participant on the grid. It is not a fancy theory; it is a


practical demonstration of how the industry can help decarbonise our energy footprint.


CW: How successful have previous trials been? CF: Data centre trials have taken place in Finland and Sweden, as there is a strong appetite for renewables in those countries. Their energy markets are open and the regulator has allowed this type of participation to happen. These were small technology trials. Here in Ireland, we worked with our


energy partner Enel X - part of the Enel Group - a power aggregation company that maintains the relationship with the grid company as a ‘power broker’. Such a company looks after all the regulation and contract issues, which is really important, because if this concept was to become popular, somebody running an airport or a hospital does not want to have to get involved in complicated regulatory or contract issues. The power aggregation company can just step in and broker the whole system. A UPS electrical equipment


manufacturer such as Eaton can have this technology. But it won’t help the planet, unless the national grid and government regulations allow for it to happen, and a power aggregation company is available to facilitate it. The UPSaaR trial is a demonstration of not just the technology, but also that it is possible for these stakeholders to get together and realise the strength of what is trying to be achieved, in terms of sustainability and renewable targets.


CW: Has UPSaaR been discussed with the UK government? CF: I think the UK power market is not open and licensed for this service, so it has not progressed to that point yet. I think it takes some regulatory effort for that to happen. But in many ways that’s why this Eaton installation is important to us – we want to shine a light on it to show that this technology is available.


CW: Can you see this technology working on a permanent basis? CF: This is the thing, it’s already in place – the electrical infrastructure is required and is already an investment that organisations have to make. But what we are pointing out is that as well as meeting a company’s own corporate needs, it can meet another need, which is the decarbonisation of our energy. It is becoming a little bit of a ‘moral


obligation’ on all of us, as companies and individuals, to become more mindful of not just efficiency, but where our energy comes from and the type of energy we are using. Energy use has never been a


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bigger issue than it is today. Recently, the Irish parliament has declared an official climate emergency, so the context is right – Eaton is just flagging the fact that there is a latent potential in all of these infrastructures to contribute and help solve the problem. The way I feel about this innovation is


that it is actually going to cause people to change their attitudes about what they consider an electrical power network to be. How we view the networks will be different, and that’s going to have to cause us to transform a lot of people’s thinking and behaviour. That’s why we’ve brought in contractors and consultants, because the whole industry has to move for this to happen. We are genuinely excited about this. It’s not just a feature to sell a product; it goes far beyond that.


CW: What’s next after Ireland? CF: We are going to use the Irish model as an example and will be looking for other stakeholders across the European Union. We want to show that we share the responsibility at the product to corporate level, and that we want to socialise and popularise this concept, trying to help people think differently about their networks. Traditionally, some industries are very protective of their infrastructures – we want to spread the message that they don’t need to be fearful; the primary function of that infrastructure is never comprised, the site is fully resilient, but the user is able to contribute back to the grid. Our plan is to take that message forward using the Irish example.


Eaton eaton.com ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING | JULY/AUGUST 2019 9


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