Why smart UPS technology is critical to grid flexibility | Knowledge in the data center

A recent study by OMDIA, an analytics and consulting firm, found that 90 percent of surveyed data center operators are likely to deploy UPS systems to interface with the grid and support important energy management initiatives in the next four years. The adoption comes at a time when increasing energy demand and the momentary imbalances inherent in renewable energy sources increasingly threaten to cause frequency changes and, if left unchecked, outages. This is where the interaction with the network service comes in.

A smart battery and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system is designed to interact with the grid and balance it during periods of instability—and unlock benefits such as cost savings, improved operational resilience, and even new revenue generation opportunities.

Read on to learn why these energy storage systems are critical to balancing the grid.

The advantages of interactive network UPS technology

Backup batteries in a UPS spend much of their life unused. Intelligent UPS technology uses battery storage systems to store energy and instantly release it when needed without hindering the UPS system’s ability to protect the load. Additionally, a grid-interactive UPS can be designed to provide fast enough response for dynamic frequency regulation.

Here’s how to choose the right UPS technology for business purposes.

Network Balancing Basics

A grid-interactive UPS must be able to power ancillary services while maintaining sufficient battery runtime to allow normal transfer to generators in the event of a power failure.

When the external controller detects a change in grid frequency, it commands the UPS to follow that request by adjusting to a specific power setpoint by charging or discharging the batteries within their operating limits. A UPS manages input power to achieve specific purposes or services by operating in multiple different modes.

Income and balancing benefits

A grid-interactive UPS can allow businesses and residential energy users to commercialize the energy they store and reduce overall energy costs using balancing services. This type of management ensures that power meets actual demand, strengthening grid stability and enabling revenue generation and energy savings.

In fast frequency response service programs, UPS battery storage systems are used to store energy and release it immediately. Alternatively, demand management, also known as “peak shaving”, is a balancing approach that reduces reliance on the grid in times of power shortages or high energy costs. Demand management services are offered through programs where companies receive a regular financial payment based on the amount of the contract for such services.

Data center organizations offering network balancing services receive additional “energy” payments based on how quickly they respond to changes in network frequency and the reduction in energy consumption achieved.

Network maintenance challenges and solutions

Because the technology is so new, some operators are concerned about making changes to the UPS technologies their customers rely on to protect their critical systems, and whether this grid-maintenance technology will cause batteries to age or degrade more quickly .

UPS features like Vertiv’s Dynamic Grid Support not only enable grid flexibility, power stability and demand management, but protect batteries from degradation with UPS management systems that can pause or exit when operating conditions are out of specification or increase risk. In addition, leading UPS systems are designed with optimization features, advanced diagnostics and lithium-ion battery storage to control the main aging factors.

As the industry seeks to stabilize the grid and move away from traditional energy sources, few will be able to ignore the benefits of grid-interactive UPS. Download our white paper for more information on these benefits and how you can use interactive network UPS technology to maximize revenue.

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