Banks of lithium-ion batteries at a Microsoft data center in Dublin are set to be used to support the growth of renewables on Ireland’s electricity grid.

Microsoft says the batteries — which typically provide backup power in the event of an emergency — are certified, tested and approved for connection to the grid.

The batteries are part of what is called an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for the data center.

The UPS at Microsoft’s Dublin data center includes new technology that enables real-time interaction with the power grid.

Grid-interactive UPS systems could enable operator EirGrid to cut two million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2025, according to Baringa, an energy consultancy commissioned by Microsoft.

“It definitely moves the dial on emissions nationally,” said Mark Turner, a partner in Baringa’s energy practice, who helped conduct the analysis.

“The third benefit is that you reduce the amount you have to give up from renewables.

“That’s because if you turn on gas-fired power plants to provide that service, you have to turn off something else. These are often renewable energy sources. If you provide this with UPS, you no longer have to do this.’

Ireland’s nearly 400 wind farms collectively generate more than 35 percent of the island’s electricity.

But wind intensity in Ireland varies throughout the day and across the seasons, causing fluctuating power generation.

Microsoft says the new project will be part of the solution to this problem and is partnering with Enel X to deliver it later this year.

Mycah Gambrell-Ermak, principal program manager at Microsoft, said: “In areas where municipalities or utilities are trying to get away from fossil fuel-based solutions, if there is a decline in renewable reserves, what we can do as a company, is to take our heavy load and we can reduce the load by using our own batteries.

“Utilities, through aggregators, can give us a signal that tells us to discharge our batteries to offset our load, which then takes the burden off the grid.”

The project has been in the works for several years, with Microsoft beginning to explore ways to use the batteries in 2017.

“The concept was to use a UPS that provides continuous protection, replace the UPS controller and provide services back to the grid,” said Ehsan Nasr, a senior design researcher who works in Microsoft’s data center advanced development group. .

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