Rethinking the power balance

04 March 2020

Janne Paananen, technology manager, Eaton EMEA

Janne Paananen, technology manager, Eaton EMEA

Businesses and consumers alike increasingly rely on 24/7, ‘always on’ digital infrastructure.

As a result, data centres are being built to handle the surge in data processing required to enable this digital-first lifestyle.

Data centres have long been viewed as environmental villains due to their carbon emissions and historically high levels of energy consumption.

Yet with one lightbulb moment, a method of turning data centres from a hindrance into a help was created.


The lightbulb moment 

In engineering, just as in many other areas of life, the greatest creative solutions are forged under pressure.

This was the case in 2013 when in hindsight one of the most exciting breakthroughs of my career took place.

A customer was experiencing peaks and troughs of power flow, with this variable load putting their existing cables under pressure.

To avoid re-cabling part of its network, the customer was looking for a way to buffer the energy.

This meant trying to hold back power during times of high load and spread the impact more evenly.

We quickly ended up moving away from thinking about the energy storage solution which seemed the most natural fit for this request at first.

Instead, we considered how a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) could manage this and provide more value to customer.

Eventually, this idea led to EnergyAware UPS solution.


Transforming our power network

Renewable energy sources currently provide 26% of the world’s electricity, and this is set to rise.

Power systems and markets must therefore become more flexible to compensate for the greater volatility caused by adding more renewables to the grid.

Our EnergyAware UPS solution helps data centres and energy providers balance sustainable energy demands by working together.

It acts as a critical safeguard during potentially damaging power anomalies yet helps to balance the grid and contain mains frequency.

Beyond contributing to the increase of renewable energy sources by stabilising the grid, this EnergyAware solution can be a great value-generating asset.

These major UPS users can be financially compensated for immediate adjustments to power consumption that help the grid avoid power outages, without compromising critical loads.


Understanding power balancing 

Years of experience in the power generation sector, as well as a long history of application-based engineering, helps to understand the fundamentals of power balancing.

Given the drive for a cleaner energy mix, understanding the mechanics behind power balancing is going to be key to our sector progressing as digitisation continues to transform the way we live, work, travel and more.

I am proud to say that I played a part in something truly innovative that will help generations to come as we move away from fossil fuels and create a grid fit for a cleaner future.