Georgia Tech Installs 1.5 MW Data Center Microgrid

Aug. 13, 2020
A team that includes utility Georgia Power has installed a 1.5 MW data center microgrid to serve the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta.

A team that includes utility Georgia Power has installed a 1.5 MW data center microgrid to serve the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta.

Located at ATL1, a DataBank data center, the microgrid uses natural gas and diesel generation, fuel cells, and battery energy storage.

During power outages, the microgrid will act as emergency backup for the Georgia Tech’s high-performance computer center (HPCC), which is housed within ATL1.

When grid conditions are normal, the microgrid will operate in grid-connected mode and provide various services to help reduce the computer center’s energy costs. As is standard for many advanced microgrids, it can be used to reduce its host’s electric load when prices are high on the grid during periods of peak demand.

The microgrid also can sense the computer center’s load and deliver power based on its power needs.

“The microgrid is a ‘smart grid’ in effect as it can sense the capacity and power needed for the HPCC, and adjust automatically, for both optimum power consumption as well as cost-effectiveness,” said Neal Bryant, ATL1 facilities manager. “The combination of mechanical equipment like cooling towers and mechanical pumping, along with IT infrastructure allows for varying loads during testing. The microgrid senses those varying loads and exports power accordingly.” 

Georgia Power views the microgrid as a research and development project. The utility donated the microgrid and acts as its operator, according to a DataBank spokesperson.

“The microgrid project will give us a better understanding of the resiliency, sustainability, and cost of microgrids to help develop emerging energy solutions to better serve our customers now and in the future,” said Alan Goldin, project manager at Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary.

In addition to Georgia Power, the collaborative using the microgrid for R&D includes Southern Company R&D, Georgia Tech and DataBank. Bloom Energy provided the fuel cells and Tesla the batteries. 

The data center microgrid, which Microgrid Knowledge first reported on two years ago, is located in midtown Atlanta’s Tech Square CODA, a mixed use tech development.

Interested in data center microgrid projects? Download the Microgrid Knowledge special report, How Microgrids are Changing the Paradigm on Data Center Power Delivery, Uptime, and Efficiency,” free of charge courtesy of Enchanted Rock.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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