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UK data center owners could earn money from their power management systems, under a scheme powered by an invention from start up Upside Energy.

The scheme helps companies take advantage of incentives offered by the UK National Grid, which pays companies not to use power at peak times. The UK’s version of the Demand Response system has not been able to accommodate any but the largest power consumers, for logistical reasons, but Upside says its new management system could accommodate smaller companies and even home owners.

Use batteries at peak times

Electricity meter
Electricity meter – Thinkstock / PaulMcArdleUK

Under the scheme, companies would use the battery power of their UPS (uninterruptible power supply) systems to power their entire business – including their IT and lighting. The switchover would be handled automatically by software supplied by Uptime, which would also manage the metering of power and the claiming of rebates from the National Grid. By going off grid entirely for 15 minutes a day, even a small company with a few servers could earn a £150 rebate, according to Oakes.

Even data centers could join the scheme, claimed Oakes.

“Most data centers could go off grid for 15 mins at peak times every day right now,” said Oakes. Though for practical reasons this is unlikely – given the need for backup diesel and questions over battery capacity – a smaller scale off grid session is definitely feasible, he argued.

“What could be done right now is take several data centers off grid for a couple of minutes apiece, on a rolling schedule, with Data center A handing over to data center B, which in turn hands over to data center C, until between them all they get to the end of the 15 minutes,” said Oakes.

Upside is seeking to work with major UPS vendors and power management companies to roll out the service. Among the clients Upside is currently helping to be more green is Greenpeace’s London office. In April 2014, Greenpeace organized a series of demonstrations outside Twitter’s HQ in San Francisco in protest at the social media company’s consumption of power in its data centers. Now Greenpeace has admitted its own servers could be more power efficient, according to Oakes.

In 2014 Upside received a €75,000 from the EU funded Climate and Innovation Community and a further £180, 000 from Innovate UK (the former UK government funded technology Strategies Board).