Georgia Tech Installs 1.5 MW Data Center Microgrid

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A team that includes utility Georgia Power has installed a 1.5 MW data center microgrid to serve the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta.

research microgrid

Atlanta, Georgia. By Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Located at ATL1, a DataBank data center, the microgrid uses natural gas and diesel generation, fuel cells, and battery energy storage.

During power outages, the microgrid will act as emergency backup for the Georgia Tech’s high-performance computer center (HPCC), which is housed within ATL1.

When grid conditions are normal, the microgrid will operate in grid-connected mode and provide various services to help reduce the computer center’s energy costs. As is standard for many advanced microgrids, it can be used to reduce its host’s electric load when prices are high on the grid during periods of peak demand.

The microgrid also can sense the computer center’s load and deliver power based on its power needs.

“The microgrid is a ‘smart grid’ in effect as it can sense the capacity and power needed for the HPCC, and adjust automatically, for both optimum power consumption as well as cost-effectiveness,” said Neal Bryant, ATL1 facilities manager. “The combination of mechanical equipment like cooling towers and mechanical pumping, along with IT infrastructure allows for varying loads during testing. The microgrid senses those varying loads and exports power accordingly.” 

Georgia Power views the microgrid as a research and development project. The utility donated the microgrid and acts as its operator, according to a DataBank spokesperson.

“The microgrid project will give us a better understanding of the resiliency, sustainability, and cost of microgrids to help develop emerging energy solutions to better serve our customers now and in the future,” said Alan Goldin, project manager at Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary.

In addition to Georgia Power, the collaborative using the microgrid for R&D includes Southern Company R&D, Georgia Tech and DataBank. Bloom Energy provided the fuel cells and Tesla the batteries. 

The data center microgrid, which Microgrid Knowledge first reported on two years ago, is located in midtown Atlanta’s Tech Square CODA, a mixed use tech development.

Interested in data center microgrid projects? Download the Microgrid Knowledge special report, How Microgrids are Changing the Paradigm on Data Center Power Delivery, Uptime, and Efficiency,” free of charge courtesy of Enchanted Rock.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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