DUBLIN — Eaton will expand its collaboration with Microsoft to accelerate applications of its EnergyAware UPS technology in key segments worldwide. The expansion is part of a new strategic framework agreement between Eaton and Microsoft designed to address major industry developments, including digital transformation, sustainability, and the energy transition.

A key element of the strategic framework agreement is the inclusion of Eaton’s proprietary EnergyAware UPS technology in Microsoft projects. The primary function of a UPS is to provide backup power protection for mission critical applications and facilities and to protect them from grid outages or power quality issues. Through close collaboration over several years, Eaton and Microsoft have added digital capabilities to the UPS, which allows it to be used as a distributed energy resource (DER) to support grids with high levels of variable renewable energy generation. 

This will allow for a new generation of “grid-interactive” data centers, including those operated by Microsoft, to support grid operators with the provision of critical flexibility services. Selling flexibility into the grid is an opportunity for data centers to monetize underutilized assets, for example, by providing energy storage and supplying the fast frequency response services that grid operators will increasingly need as renewable capacity increases and the grid loses the inertia associated with fossil fuel generation.

“A grid-interactive UPS helps decarbonize energy at grid level, which means that its sustainability benefit extends beyond the data center,” said Craig McDonnell, senior vice-president and general manager of the Energy Transition and Digital division at Eaton. “This changes the game in terms of energy management within the data center’s overall environmental impact profile.”

“A grid-interactive data center is one where its extensive electrical system functions not only to protect customer IT data and applications but also to provide valuable electrical services back to the transmission system operator and the grid,”  said Sean James, director of data center research at Microsoft. “These auxiliary services will be increasingly critical to help grids cope with high levels of variable renewable energy.”