Microsoft wants to explore the use of storage technologies that use batteries to act as grid resources to improve reliability, energy efficiency and usability of renewable energy
Microsoft and energy storage systems provider, Primus Power, are launching a programme to advance energy storage at data centres globally. It was announced at a White House event to honour clean energy innovators. Also involved in the collaborative project are NRG Energy, the University of Texas at San Antonio and battery technology providers.
This pilot programme forms part of a broader data centre strategy by Microsoft to explore next generation technologies for energy storage and management. It aims to determine the best way to effectively store renewable energy at scale to ensure electricity is inexpensive and available for future use.
The White House event gathered executives from companies throughout the clean energy ecosystem, with a special focus on emerging energy storage innovators, like Primus, and the companies looking to leverage these kinds of solutions to accelerate a cleaner energy future, like Microsoft.
Microsoft’s initiative will test storage technologies that use batteries -- which are currently installed at all of its data centres -- to act as grid resources to improve reliability, energy efficiency and usability of renewable energy. Multi-hour duration flow batteries, like those pioneered by Primus, are being evaluated for their ability to deliver uniform power for 20 years without fade or component replacement.
The software company’s multi-faceted global renewable energy strategy has three goals: reducing the impact of operations, enabling resource efficiency through IT, and accelerating research breakthroughs that benefit society at large.
“Data centres are the engine that drives the Microsoft Cloud, and we are committed to investing in innovation breakthroughs at our data centre that can help improve energy efficiency,” said Robert Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist. “By using high performance batteries we can improve both energy efficiency, as well as our ability to use variable energy sources like wind and solar power. In the future, with these types of innovation, the data centre could effectively operate independently of grid capacity constraints.”
Tom Stepien, Primus CEO commented: “We’re thrilled that our technology was selected by Microsoft to support this important project. Data centres are a practical near-term application for energy storage. As significant consumers of electricity, there is significant economic value in powering them from renewable sources. Energy storage is key to achieving that goal. Weaning data centres from the grid will be a real game-changer. It’s exciting to be part of the team that’s committed to making it happen.”