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Google says batteries are a ‘multi-talented’ option for data centers

Google is investing in battery energy storage to serve as a backup power solution at one of its data centers, in a project described as a first step in changing data centers “from climate change problems to critical components in carbon-free systems”.

Google’s data center in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium, was the search engine and web services giant’s first facility to add on-site solar generation, adding a 2.8 MW solar array in 2017 to complement various other energy efficiency measures that had already been put in place.

Now, the company is seeking to replace diesel generators that provide backup and help keep the facility running in the event of grid outages with battery storage solutions. This week, in a post on the company’s corporate blog, Google VP of global data centers Joe Kava said that the aim is to demonstrate that batteries are a “better, cleaner solution” that has now “advanced far enough to keep the internet up and running”.

Kava’s blog also highlighted that Google recognition that batteries can serve far more than just that one important purpose. It’s rare that backup generators are called into action and they therefore mostly sit idle, Kava wrote, but “batteries are multi-talented team players” that when not in use for backup could perform services that help strengthen the local electric grid.

Kava’s colleague, Maud Texier, who leads Google’s efforts in carbon-free energy, told specialist industry publication Data Center Knowledge that the project’s three aims are to demonstrate batteries as a viable alternative to backup generators, show how the battery storage can balance the grid and pilot the integration of battery storage into Google’s worldwide infrastructure portfolio.

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