Ohio Data Center Microgrid Launched as Proof of Concept

Oct. 27, 2023
The 1-MW project will demonstrate how microgrids can help data center operators meet their ever-growing demand for power.

(Editor's Note: The original company release reported incorrect information on the size of the project. The story has been updated with the correct number.)

Vertiv, an Ohio-based critical digital infrastructure provider, has launched a microgrid to support its new Customer Experience Center in Delaware, Ohio, just north of Columbus.

The 1-MW microgrid, which was announced at the facility’s grand opening and is now operational, was designed to show data centers how they can address the electrical grid capacity and availability challenges they face as the world moves more and more online.

The installation includes a 1-MW alternating current (AC) solar array and a 400-kW hydrogen fuel cell, as well as a 1-MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system and microgrid controller.

Vertiv partnered with American Electric Power on the microgrid, which will serve as a proof of concept, testing how the microgrid works with Vertiv’s data center infrastructure technologies.

Among the key metrics the company will be measuring are reliability, backup power duration and how well the microgrid responds in a variety of operating conditions. 

Data centers turn to microgrids to meet increasing power needs

Data center energy consumption is on the rise, and experts predict that the industry’s power consumption will jump to 35 GW by 2030, more than double 2022 levels.

This sharp uptick will be driven, in large part, by power-hungry technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). Popular AI tools require significantly more computing power than other types of computing because of the complex algorithms and large datasets used behind the scenes. This is especially true for generative AI (GenAI) programs such as ChatGPT, GPT-3 and DALL-E-2 that create text, images, audio or video.

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The challenge data centers are increasingly facing is that the traditional power grid simply can’t keep up with the industry’s ever-growing electricity needs.

“Our customers are evaluating the role of microgrids and battery energy storage systems (BESS) for their mission critical power systems. Standing up a microgrid that serves as both a customer experience center and a test lab for performance will enable Vertiv to help our customers make critical decisions on whether a microgrid and BESS are right for their data center and how to deploy their own microgrid sites,” said Kyle Keeper, senior vice president of global AC power product development and engineering at Vertiv.

Microgrids also provide resilience, lower energy costs and help data centers meet their sustainability goals.

“This is an important step in helping our customers operate more efficiently and effectively with the electrical grid,” Keeper said.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. If you’re presenting at a Microgrid Knowledge conference, you can expect to hear from me at some point! I have over 25 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. For the past five years, I’ve focused exclusively on recreational vehicles, electric vehicles, and the renewable energy industry, where I’ve written about utilities, solar, and wind energy companies (I like to keep things diverse!). I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.