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Why Intelligent UPS Technology Is Critical to Grid Flexibility | Data Center Knowledge

A recent survey from OMDIA, an analyst and consultancy firm, found that 90% of surveyed data center operators are likely to deploy UPS systems to interact with the grid and support essential energy management initiatives within the next four years. The adoption comes as surging energy demand and the momentary imbalances common to renewable energy sources increasingly threaten to cause frequency variations, and if unchecked, outages. That’s where grid service interaction comes in.

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

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

The benefits of grid-interactive UPS technology

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

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

Grid-balancing basics

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

When the external controller detects a grid frequency variation, it commands the UPS to follow this request, adjusting to a specified power set point by charging or discharging the batteries within their operational limits. The UPS controls the input power to achieve certain targets or services by working in a variety of different modes.

Revenue and balancing benefits

A grid-interactive UPS can enable businesses and private energy users to commercialize the energy they store and lower overall energy costs using balancing services. This type of management ensures the power supply matches the current demand, reinforcing grid stability and allowing for revenue generation and energy savings.

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

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

Grid support challenges and solutions

With the technology being so new, some operators worry about making changes to the UPS technologies on which their customers rely for protection of their critical systems, as well as whether this grid support technology will cause batteries to age or degrade faster.

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

As the industry moves to stabilize the grid and retreats from traditional energy sources, few will be able to ignore the benefits of a grid-interactive UPS. Download our white paper for more on these benefits and how you can use grid-interactive UPS technology to maximize revenues.

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