Centrica and Fluence work with data centre in Belgium to provide and optimise its first zero-emission backup power system

Last updated: 21st April 2022

Centrica Business Solutions, a provider of integrated energy solutions that balance profitability and sustainability, and Fluence, a global market leader in energy storage products, services, and digital applications for renewables and storage, have announced their collaboration with Google for the supply and optimisation of a zero-emission energy backup system at a hyperscale data centre in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium.

The 2.75 MW battery-based energy storage system provided by Fluence, the first of its kind for Google, supplies the hyperscale data centre facility in St. Ghislain with zero-emission electricity during grid outages, supporting Google’s 2030 carbon-free energy goal

Google will also use Centrica’s network for the first time to support grid stability and advance 24/7 clean energy.

For Google, it is the first-of-its-kind project globally that uses a battery-based energy storage system to reduce the use of diesel generators needed to provide backup power to the facility. The installation of 2.75 MW of Fluence’s Gridstack energy storage product at the St.Ghislain data centre serves as a proof-of-concept for wider use of battery-based energy storage at Google’s facilities to help Google deliver on its commitment to operate globally on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030.

Centrica will connect the battery storage assets to the Belgian electricity grid, allowing Google’s on-site batteries to flexibly store and discharge energy using Centrica’s specialised FlexPond™ software. The project further demonstrates the role that industrial consumers can play in stabilising electricity grids via on-site batteries.

All data centres require around the clock access to grid electricity, as well as on-site backup power to safeguard against power-cuts or blackouts. Battery-based energy storage is a quickly deployed, cost-effective, and low-emission solution that not only increases the resilience of commercial and industrial facilities but also supports system-wide decarbonisation and energy security goals across Europe and worldwide.

Marc Oman, Senior Lead of Data Centre Energy and Infrastructure at Google, said: “Google is pleased to drive technology innovation at the intersection of the data centre and energy industries, particularly when our innovations catalyse benefits beyond our own operations. The zero-emission backup power system provided by Fluence at our St. Ghislain facility is an important step forward in reaching our carbon-free energy goals.

“Not only will it allow Google to operate more cleanly during interruptions to grid reliability, but through our collaboration with Centrica, our battery will help the Belgian electricity grid maintain its target frequency and stay in balance.

“We look forward to how the project will open the way for Google to deploy battery-based energy storage technologies across our other facilities, reducing reliance on fossil-fuel based back-up generation and providing flexibility to the grid to enable increased integration of renewable energy.” 

Paul McCusker, Fluence SVP & President EMEA, commented: “We are excited to partner with Google to deploy this reliable, zero-emission power system to help them replace conventional diesel generation, provide critical backup energy, and increase the sustainability of the St. Ghislain data centre. Fluence looks forward to accelerating the data centre industry’s efforts to reduce emissions while ensuring high performance and reliability for their facilities and the local power grids.

“The collaboration with Centrica highlights our commitment to working with the best route-to-the-market providers across all geographical locations to maximise the benefits for our client and develop a unique ecosystem that changes the way our customers power the world.” 

Arno Van Mourik, Director of Centrica Business Solutions International, said: “There are an estimated 20 gigawatts of backup diesel generators in service across the data centre industry, representing a massive opportunity to deploy cleaner solutions. Managed correctly, we can not only support data centres to operate more sustainably, but also deliver grid scale flexibility – balancing the volatility of renewable energy, in support of a 100% zero carbon energy network of tomorrow.”

Working together to build a more sustainable grid

To optimise its storage assets, Google hired Centrica to facilitate its participation in the ancillary services market operated by Belgian TSO ELIA. Google’s storage batteries will function as a virtual power plant, managed by Centrica in combination with its clever FlexPond™ optimisation software. The batteries have a total energy capacity of 5.5 MWh of which 2.75 MWh will be optimised by Centrica for participation in demand response programs.

Google is a global leader in using carbon-free energy, reducing emissions and other environmental impacts, and increasing energy efficiency, with its data centres operating at twice the efficiency of a typical enterprise data centre, on average.

Data centres are among the most energy-intensive facilities and account for approximately 1 percent of global electricity demand.

Because of their need for a continuous power supply at all times, most data centres rely on diesel generators for backup power in the event of grid disruptions.

Google’s partnership with Fluence and Centrica is an example of how the fast-growing data industry can take concrete measures to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale batteries and their value to both data centres and electricity grids.

N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie