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ABB unlocks sustainable energy upgrades for data centers

By Jessie Chiang
Wed 11 May 2022

ABB says its new microgrid solutions will allow data centers to be ready for the green revolution and use their own energy sources with a reduced carbon footprint.

The company says its solutions are paving the way for data centers to have self-generation options and enable grid services while ensuring the mission-critical of power availability is fulfilled.

Using a modular approach, ABB says its microgrid solutions allow data centers to operate entirely off-grid, powered by their own solar or wind generation coupled with battery energy storage system (BESS), or partially off-grid by utilizing both renewables and power networks, to make them cleaner and more cost-efficient to run.

ABB says this kind of flexibility allows data centers to get the most benefits of the system depending on the level in terms of functionalities, hardware and software.

For example, a data center equipped with the state-of-the-art ABB’s HiPerGuard UPS product for Medium Voltage (MV) can provide different functionalities such as demand response with no risk to uptime. 

ABB says most of the time, UPS energy storage systems lie unused or store more energy than is needed. However, with the added functionalities provided by ABB’s microgrid solution, data centers can enable a revenue stream by providing that extra capacity to the grid to cover shortfalls in energy generation. 

The company says a minimum state-of-charge on the UPS ensures the capacity required to restart in a blackout is always protected.

ABB data center solution portfolio manager Danel Turk says data centers account for about 2% of global electricity consumption, but the flow of power doesn’t have to be one way.

“Data centers can support and adapt to this shifting energy landscape with new technologies which allow them to be both consumers and prosumers,” he says.

“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.”

ABB says the microgrid solution is also designed for expandability and can be coupled with a fuel cell and BESS to provide back up power, which could one day replace diesel generators. 

At the same time, it allows back up power generators to operate in parallel with the energy storage and possible on-site renewable generation.

ABB says it has 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. 

It says this solution is more energy-dense than typical hydrogen solutions, so just one 20ft tank offers eight days’ running time for a 250kW load. A typical hydrogen tube trailer solution requires 1240ft tanks to match this performance, so ammonia takes up considerably less space on site.

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