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Centrica Business Solutions to optimise battery storage at leading data centre and support Belgian electricity grid

Google’s hyperscale data centre in Belgium’s Saint-Ghislain will be using Centrica’s battery network for the first time to support grid stability and advance 24/7 clean energy.

Centrica Business Solutions, a provider of integrated energy solutions that balance profitability and sustainability, has announced  a collaboration with Google to connect the battery storage assets of its data centre in Saint-Ghislain to the Belgian electricity grid. This work will allow Google’s on-site batteries to flexibly store and discharge energy using Centrica’s specialised FlexPond software. The project further demonstrates the role that industrial consumers can play in stabilising electricity grids via on-site batteries.

All data centres require around the clock access to grid electricity, as well as on-site backup power to safeguard against power-cuts or blackouts. To advance its goal of running its data centres and global operations on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030, Google initiated a pilot in 2021 to deploy large-scale batteries at its data centre in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium. As the data centre’s batteries are not continuously operated, Google also saw an opportunity to employ them to offer services to the Belgian grid and contribute to grid stability.

Google is pleased to drive technology innovation at the intersection of the data centre and energy industries, particularly when our innovations catalyse benefits beyond our own operations. Our new battery project is a great example of this: not only will it allow Google to operate more cleanly during interruptions to grid reliability, but through our collaboration with Centrica, our battery will help the Belgian electricity grid maintain its target frequency and stay in balance.
Marc Oman, Senior Lead of Data Centre Energy and Infrastructure at Google

Marc Oman, Senior Lead of Data Centre Energy and Infrastructure at Google: “Google is pleased to drive technology innovation at the intersection of the data centre and energy industries, particularly when our innovations catalyse benefits beyond our own operations. Our new battery project is a great example of this: not only will it allow Google to operate more cleanly during interruptions to grid reliability, but through our collaboration with Centrica, our battery will help the Belgian electricity grid maintain its target frequency and stay in balance.

Working together to build a more sustainable grid

To optimise its storage assets, Google hired Centrica to facilitate its participation in the ancillary services market operated by Belgian TSO ELIA. Google’s storage batteries will function as a virtual power plant, managed by Centrica in combination with its clever FlexPond™ optimisation software. The batteries have a total energy capacity of 5.5 MWh of which 2.75 MWh will be optimised by Centrica for participation in demand response programs.

There are an estimated 20 gigawatts of backup diesel generators in service across the data centre industry, representing a massive opportunity to deploy cleaner solutions. Managed correctly, we can not only support data centres to operate more sustainably, but also deliver grid scale flexibility -  balancing the volatility of renewable energy, in support of a 100% zero carbon energy network of tomorrow.
Arno Van Mourik, Director of Centrica Business Solutions International:
Google’s focus on achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy and accelerating grid-level decarbonisation builds the groundwork for a global clean energy ecosystem and empowers the energy consumer industry to participate. Google’s partnership with Centrica is an example of how the fast-growing data industry can take concrete measures to demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale batteries and their value to both data centres and electricity grids.