BRUSSELS — Centrica Business Solutions and Fluence announced their collaboration with Google for the supply and optimization of a zero-emission energy backup system at a hyperscale data center in Saint-Ghislain. 
 For Google, it is the first-of-its-kind project globally that uses a battery-based energy storage system to reduce the number of diesel generators needed to provide backup power to the facility. The installation of 2.75 MW of Fluence’s Gridstack energy storage product at the Saint-Ghislain data center serves as a proof of concept for wider use of battery-based energy storage at its facilities to help Google deliver on its commitment to operate globally on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030

Centrica will connect the battery storage assets to the Belgian electricity grid, allowing Google’s on-site batteries to flexibly store and discharge energy using Centrica’s specialized FlexPond software. The project further demonstrates the role that industrial consumers can play in stabilizing electricity grids via on-site batteries. 

All data centers require around-the-clock access to grid electricity as well as on-site backup power to safeguard against power cuts or blackouts. Battery-based energy storage is a quickly deployed, cost-effective, and low-emission solution that not only increases the resilience of commercial and industrial facilities but also supports systemwide decarbonization and energy security goals across Europe and worldwide.

“Google is pleased to drive technology innovation at the intersection of the data center and energy industries, particularly when our innovations catalyze benefits beyond our own operations,” said Marc Oman, Senior Lead of Data Centre Energy and Infrastructure at Google. “The zero-emission backup power system provided by Fluence at our Saint-Ghislain facility is an important step forward in reaching our carbon-free energy goals. Not only will it allow Google to operate more cleanly during interruptions to grid reliability, but, through our collaboration with Centrica, our battery will help the Belgian electricity grid maintain its target frequency and stay in balance. We look forward to how the project will open the way for Google to deploy battery-based energy storage technologies across our other facilities, reducing reliance on fossil-fuel-based back-up generation and providing flexibility to the grid to enable increased integration of renewable energy.”  

“We are excited to partner with Google to deploy this reliable, zero-emission power system to help them replace conventional diesel generation, provide critical backup energy, and increase the sustainability of the Saint-Ghislain data center,” said Paul McCusker, senior vice president and president for EMEA at Fluence. “Fluence looks forward to accelerating the data center industry’s efforts to reduce emissions while ensuring high performance and reliability for their facilities and the local power grids.”

“The collaboration with Centrica highlights our commitment to working with the best route-to-the-market providers across all geographical locations to maximize the benefits for our client and develop a unique ecosystem that changes the way our customers power the world.”  

A More Sustainable Grid

To optimize its storage assets, Google hired Centrica to facilitate its participation in the ancillary services market operated by Belgian TSO ELIA. Google’s storage batteries will function as a virtual power plant, managed by Centrica in combination with its FlexPond optimization software. The batteries have a total energy capacity of 5.5 MWh, of which 2.75 MWh will be optimized by Centrica for participation in demand response programs.

“There are an estimated 20 gigawatts of backup diesel generators in service across the data center industry, representing a massive opportunity to deploy cleaner solutions,” said Arno Van Mourik, director of Centrica Business Solutions Intl. “Managed correctly, we can not only support data centers to operate more sustainably but also deliver grid scale flexibility — balancing the volatility of renewable energy in support of a 100% zero-carbon energy network of tomorrow.”

Data centers are among the most energy-intensive facilities and account for approximately 1% of global electricity demand. Because of their need for a continuous power supply at all times, most data centers rely on diesel generators for backup power in the event of grid disruptions. Google’s partnership with Fluence and Centrica is an example of how the fast-growing data industry can take concrete measures to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale batteries and their value to both data centers and electricity grids.