Second life EV batteries to power data centers?

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

GreenDataNet, a consortium of seven organizations, intends to design, validate and demonstrate a system-level optimization solution allowing a network of urban data centers to collectively improve their energy and environmental performance, and act as a resource for smart grids.

The GreenDataNet project plans develop state-of-the-art technologies that will allow urban data centers to reach 80% of renewable power use and decrease their average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) from an average of 1.6-2.0 today to less than 1.3.

Renewable, low-carbon energy is accounting for an ever-greater share of electrical energy production an it is helping to drive down wholesale electricity prices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions but there is a danger that growth of solar and wind power could destabilise the grid which may lead to blackouts or brownouts. GreenDataNet is focuing on ways to optimize, at a grid-level, energy use that rewards low-carbon energy without reducing reliability and imposing undue and unnecessary costs.

At the highest level, the Project will do this by aggregating data from multiple data centers in a smart grid, and controlling IT loads by moving virtual machines according to power grid availability and cost, local energy storage level, and availability of renewable power.

GreenDataNet argues that the contribution of data centers to European electricity consumption is estimated between 2% and 2.5% and is rising faster than any other industry. With an annual growth of 10 to 15%, the electricity consumption of data centers is likely to double within the next five years. A growing number of regional, medium-sized data centers are being built close to users in urban areas. The consortium believes that as computing power increases, innovation is urgently required to bring down its corresponding demands on electrical power.

Electric vehicle batteries have a shelf life of about 14 years before their constant charging and re-charging makes them unsuitable for use in transportation.  By using large numbers of partially degraded car batteries an energy store can be developed to stockpile renewable energy as it is generated which can then be fed to data centers at peak times.

The concept is that by 2020 affordable and reliable lithium ion batteries could be given a second life in data centers and in the home. Key to the initiative  would be software developed to improve the on-demand management and transfer of energy from the battery pools to future electricity grids.

GreenDataNet will enable energy monitoring and optimization of IT, power, cooling and storage at three levels: servers and racks, individual data centers and networks of data centers.

The whole solution will be implemented on an open-source platform to allow third parties to provide additional optimization modules and ensure the long-term sustainability of the project. Three demonstration sites will be utilized to test and validate the GreenDataNet concept: a data center operated by Credit Suisse in Switzerland, a data center at CEA in France that includes a large photovoltaic area and a smart grid test platform and a pilot site in the Netherlands that is being used by a Dutch consortium working on Green IT technologies.

Based on the project outcome, GreenDataNet will release guidelines to help make data centers more sustainable in the future.

GreenDataNet is aiming to address data center challenges by developing:

  • An integrated energy management system that can monitor and automatically optimize power, cooling, IT and storage in individual data centers.
  • An extension of this system towards networks of data centers to achieve higher share of renewable energy and facilitate smart grid integration.
  • The necessary hardware, software and prediction models to efficiently integrate local PV resources into data centers.

The overall cost of the project is €4.3m. The European Commission has made a grant of €2.9m to fund the project.

The GreenDataNet consortium is comprised of seven companies and organizations.  The consortia members are:

  • Eaton
  • CEA (Commisariat a l’energie atomique et aux energies alternatives)
  • Credit Suisse AG
  • EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne)
  • ICTroom
  • Nissan International SA
  • UNITN (Universita Degli Studi di Trento)

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