February 24, 2024

Google’s Demand Response Can Reduce Power Consumption

In a recent blog post, Google announced that it has developed a new way to reduce the electricity consumption of data centers when there’s high stress on the local power grid.

It aims to do so by shifting some non-urgent computing needs to other times and locations in a way that doesn’t impact the routine Google services.

Google runs a number of tasks like YouTube video processing and adding words to Google Translate to enable its services. These non-urgent tasks use a little bit of electricity and are subject to Google’s carbon-intelligent computing platform.

How does Demand Response Work? 

Google intends to completely decarbonize electricity use by 2030. For this, it is shifting moveable compute tasks to the different places where carbon-free energy is available.

This carbon-intelligent computing helps the data centers better utilize idle solar, wind, or geothermal energy at places where energy consumption is moderate.

Demand response can be a critical tool for electrical grids as it helps reduce the investment in new fossil fuel-based resources and helps keep CO2 emissions under control.

With demand response, the company can now flag its global computing planning system in advance whenever a utility or grid operator forecasts a likelihood of energy constraint due to extremely unfavorable weather or other reasons.

The planning system will then use the algorithm to generate hourly instructions for the duration of the grid event to limit non-urgent compute tasks. These tasks are rescheduled or rerouted to a data center elsewhere on a different power grid according to feasibility.

According to Google, the feature has already been tested in multiple regions of Europe and Asia through 2022-23. Daily power consumption reductions during peak time seemed to positively impact the grid reliability and helped meet the needs of local communities.

During a recent extreme weather crisis in Oregon, Nebraska, and the Southeast, the company collaborated with local utility partners to tackle increased local power demand, straining grids, and surging energy prices.

Similar Initiative By Microsoft 

Jumping on the bandwagon, Microsoft has been seen taking initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. It shall no longer use the diesel backup power generators at its data center in Sweden. Instead, it has resolved to use the 16 MWh battery system.

Finding alternatives to diesel backup is an important step towards our 2030 goal to become carbon negative.Eoin Doherty, Microsoft Cloud Operations & Innovation general manager

Operational since June of this year, this battery energy storage system (BESS) was delivered by a subsidiary of TotalEnergies known by the name of Saft. The project highlights the potential for data centers to reduce their reliance on fossil-derived energy.

As of now, BESS provides backup power for up to 80 minutes, showing remarkable advancement toward Microsoft’s vision of diesel-free data centers. It also supports grid stability and provides black start capability for rapid recovery of the power grid in case of an outage.

According to a report, Saft deployed this system in over 16 months, keeping in mind the safety and reliability aspects of BESS.

Before BESS, Microsoft tested out hydrogen fuel cell systems in hopes of finding a replacement for diesel backup generators at its data centers.

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