The UK’s largest colocation providers remain highly resistant to using back-up power assets to provide demand response services to National Grid.
The system operators is keen to expand demand response, aiming to achieve 30-50% of grid balancing from demand-side action by 2020.
Data centres are potentially prime candidates to provide balancing service via their UPS and back-up generators. Such assets can respond within seconds, thereby earning the highest payment rates from National Grid by responding to variations in frequency. However, many remain reluctant to commit key assets for non-core operations.
Telecity MD Rob Coupland was unambiguous when asked if the firm would use its generators to earn money from National Grid.
“If the grid fails then the back-up generators are for that purpose. But as a proactive measure to try and save cost? Absolutely not. That is not what they are there for,” said Coupland at the IP Expo conference. “I am not there to take money off grid I am there to make sure that my clients have sufficient power.”
Robin Brown, a vice president at Colt Technology Services, agreed. “We provision enough power to manage the site and we are not in the business of providing it back to the grid,” he said. “That would increase our risk profile.”
Derrick Allen, group operations director at Global With, suggested National Grid had to rethink its mechanisms and price structures. He described previous involvement with Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) as “quite a painful experience.”
However, Allen did not rule out future participation.
“If the tariffs change and the way it is adopted changes … it might be more attractive.”