Digital Realty is set to partner with energy firm Enel X to roll out grid-balancing UPS systems in Ireland.

The integrated battery banks, housed within Digital Realty’s Irish data centers, will relieve grid dependence on fossil fuel power plants during periods of frequency deviation by redirecting loads from the grid to batteries.

Profile Park Dublin
Digital Realty's Profile Park campus in Dublin – Google Maps

Frequency deviation occurs when there is a mismatch between the supply and demand of power in the system – for example, fluctuations in wind speed – potentially leading to outages.

The grid balancing system uses surplus stored energy held by the UPS, and feeds it back straight back to the grid.

Currently, the company has integrated 6MW of UPS capacity into its dynamic frequency program. The system is expected to prevent more than 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from being released, once fully deployed.

The UPS system has been designed to combat the challenges posed by Ireland’s transition to renewable energy, including grid instability caused by the country’s increasing share in wind power.

"With this partnership, Digital Realty is using its data center assets in an innovative way to support more renewables on the grid and reduce carbon emissions,” said Séamus Dunne, managing director at Digital Realty in the UK and Ireland.

John Byrne, head of operations for the UK and Ireland at Enel X, said: “Electricity grids of the future will become increasingly reliant on the formation of mutually beneficial relationships between user, technology, and local regulations.

“By adopting this mindset, the infrastructure network that data center owners create to support their own operations could also provide valuable resilience to the grid operator that enables it to fulfill the green energy needs of a growing population and economy.”

Digital Realty currently operates nine data centers in Ireland - all located in Dublin.

The balancing system differs slightly from those that provide power to the grid during downtime, but is similar to the system deployed by Microsoft and Eaton in 2022 in Dublin, in that it’s happening even while the grid is operating. Microsoft has since announced plans to deploy the system worldwide.

A likely factor in the deployment of grid-interactive and grid-balancing systems in Ireland is the growing concern about data centers’ impact on the Irish grid.

Recently, data center operators, such as AWS and Servecentric, have had data center proposals blocked and delayed because of grid constraints.

Telia also connected the UPS systems at its 24MW Helsinki data center in Finland to the local grid.