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Google pilots new demand response method to reduce data centre electricity consumption

Written by Mon 9 Oct 2023

Google has piloted a demand response method to reduce its data centres’ electricity consumption during times when power grids are experiencing high stress.

Google’s demand response system optimises data centre energy consumption by rescheduling non-essential compute tasks to alternate times and locations. These tasks include YouTube video processing and adding new words to Google Translate.

The power demand of Google’s data centres can be reduced when requested by external power system partners like utility or grid operators. When Google receives notification from a grid operator about an anticipated local grid event, it triggers an algorithm. This algorithm generates detailed instructions for specific data centres to temporarily reduce non-essential compute tasks during the event.

In some cases, tasks can be rerouted to data centres on separate power grids. Google said this could be achieved without the need for additional hardware, while maintaining the performance of its day-to-day services.

“Our initial pilot programs have proven out real-world use cases for our demand response approach and demonstrated how it can support grid operations,” said Google.

The demand response approach was tested by Google in Taiwan, Oregon, Nebraska, and across Europe.

As the Western US continues to improve system reliability, demand response capabilities will provide tremendous local and regional value during extreme events. Google and Northern Wasco County PUD successfully demonstrated day-ahead DR capabilities at Google’s facilities in The Dalles, Oregon under a recent pilot,” said Chris Allen, Director of Power Resources at Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District.

Google recognised that ‘better frameworks to incentivise large energy users to operate more flexibly’ will be required to unlock the reliable, cost-effective, and clean resource benefits of demand response. The tech giant plans to work with large energy users, grid partners, and policy makers to achieve this.

“With growing penetration of renewables and focus on a stable and secure energy system in the Netherlands and Europe, demand flexibility is an increasingly important mechanism for ensuring efficient and reliable power system operations.

“Our previous pilot in the Netherlands demonstrated Google’s responsive capability of data centres – and we will continue to work together to build on the promising results,” said Lucien Wiegers, Commercial Director of Eneco Energy Trade.

The new pilot forms part of Google’s carbon-intelligent computing platform, first established in 2020. This platform aligns computing tasks with periods and locations when carbon-free energy is accessible on the grid.

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Written by Mon 9 Oct 2023

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