Using a modular approach, ABB’s microgrid solutions allow data centers to operate fully off-grid, powered by their own solar or wind generation coupled with battery energy storage systems (BESS), or partially off-grid by utilizing both renewables and power networks. Designed with flexibility in mind, the solution allows data centers to get the most benefits of the system depending on the level in terms of functionalities, hardware, and software. As an example, a data center equipped with ABB’s HiPerGuard UPS product for medium voltage (MV) can provide demand response with no risk to uptime. Most of the time, UPS energy storage systems lie unused or store more energy than is needed, but with the microgrid solution, data centers can enable a revenue stream by providing that unused capacity to the grid to cover shortfalls in energy generation. A minimum state-of-charge on the UPS ensures the capacity required to restart in a blackout is always protected. 

It can be coupled with a fuel cell and BESS to provide back up power, which could, one day, replace diesel generators. It can operate back-up power generators in parallel with the energy storage and possible on-site renewable generation. 

ABB completed the proof of concept for a new solution, in partnership with AFC Energy, using an ammonia-based fuel cell and the latest power conversion technologies. Just one 20-foot tank offers eight days of running time for a 250-kW load. 

“Data centers account for around 2% of global consumption of electricity, but this flow of power doesn’t have to just be one way,” said Danel Turk, data center solution portfolio manager at ABB. “Data centers can support and adapt to this shifting energy landscape with new technologies, which allow them to be both consumers and prosumers. We are really excited to share details of the pilot schemes we have run to help operators cut emissions and support the transition to greater use of renewable energy generation.”