Eaton to deepen collaboration with Microsoft on grid-interactive UPS technology

Eaton, an intelligent power management company, said it will expand its collaboration with Microsoft to accelerate applications of its energy-aware uninterruptible power system UPS technology in key segments worldwide.

The expansion is a component of a new strategic framework contract between Eaton and Microsoft intended to meet significant industry trends like digital transformation, sustainability, and the energy transition.

According to Craig McDonnell, senior vice-president and general manager of the energy transition and digital division at Eaton, said: “A grid-interactive UPS helps decarbonize energy at grid level which means that its sustainability benefit extends beyond the data center. This changes the game in terms of energy management within the data center’s overall environmental impact profile.”

The primary function of a UPS is to provide backup power protection for mission-critical applications and facilities and to protect them from grid outages or power quality issues.

Through close collaboration over several years, Eaton and Microsoft have added digital capabilities to the UPS, which allows it to be used as a distributed energy resource (DER) to support grids with high levels of variable renewable energy generation.

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In addition Sean James, director of data center research, Microsoft said, “A grid-interactive data center is one where its extensive electrical system functions not only to protect customer IT data and applications but also to provide valuable electrical services back to the transmission system operator and the grid.”

“These auxiliary services will be increasingly critical to help grids cope with high levels of variable renewable energy”

This will allow for a new generation of ‘grid-interactive’ data centers, including those operated by Microsoft, to support grid operators with the provision of critical flexibility services.

Selling flexibility into the grid is an opportunity for data centers to monetize underutilized assets, for example by providing energy storage and supplying the fast frequency response services that grid operators will increasingly need as renewable capacity increases and the grid loses the inertia associated with fossil fuel generation.

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