Data centre operators must develop decentralised energy to achieve true resilience

With grid instability and energy security continuing to prove challenging for industry across Europe, a new report is highlighting solutions for data centre operators to navigate a complex energy market and avoid downtime from grid resilience issues.

As rising costs resulting from Europe’s energy crisis begin to settle, the report, titled ‘Race to Resilience’, indicates that ongoing energy instability means power supply remains a major concern for the European data centre market.

According to Aggreko, major questions remain over the future security of data centre operators’ energy supply, with power outages, connection delays and rising fees only serving to compound the issue.

Moreover, with multiple European countries set to end their energy relief packages for businesses  by the end of 2024, and the EU’s gas price cap agreement also ending in February 2024, concern is being raised that this will add to the severity of this situation.

In an effort to address these concerns, Aggreko’s report explores how facilities can meet both short and long-term power demands, highlighting a revised approach to decentralised energy as an effective route to improve security of supply, reduce transmission losses and lower carbon emissions.

“Energy-related challenges have been a burgeoning issue for the European data centre market over the past decade. While much has changed in this time, it is clear that this issue will not be decreasing in severity any time soon and a re-evaluation of power procurement methods is necessary to guarantee security of supply for the future,” Chris Rason, managing director, Aggreko Energy Services, commented.

“Aggreko’s Race to Resilience report aims to bridge the gap between today’s challenges of exponential energy demand and supply disruptions, with tomorrow’s objectives of security and sustainability.”

The report gives practical examples of decentralised solutions in action, including microgrids, gas-powered generators, combined heat and power, and energy storage .

One such example features a data centre with existing on-site generation seeking ‘grid-interactive’ capability. Here, as a core principle of demand-side response (DSR), businesses temporarily lower demand when asked by the distribution network operator, using battery storage, Stage V generation or multi megawatt-gas generation to cover these requests.

This approach is particularly useful in strictly regulated areas such as the Republic of Ireland, where operators are subject to ‘flexi-supply’ requirements by EirGrid.

To give decision-makers a starting point when identifying such models, the report also highlights a series of calculators developed by Aggreko – these include the Data Centre Power Selector, Hire Vs Buy, Grid Compare, and Greener Upgrades calculators.

Rason concluded: “The current state of energy instability, compounded by ailing grid infrastructures and pressure to reduce emissions has placed the European data centre market at a fork in the road. Operators face the choice of persisting with the grid and its limitations, or setting forwards on the path to resilience through alternative methods of power procurement.

“However, with upgrades through outright purchases bringing their own challenges, bridging solutions offer a risk-free way to set data centres in the right direction. The solutions put forward in Aggreko’s latest report aim to light the way towards new energy models for the European data centre industry.”

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