How to Effectively Couple Datacenters as Flexible Loads to the Power Grid for Carbon Reduction

Liuzixuan (Peter) Lin. 11 January, 2022.
Communicated by Andrew Chien.


The rapid growth of datacenter (DC) loads can be leveraged to help meet renewable portfolio standard (RPS, renewable fraction) targets in power grids. The ability to manipulate DC loads over time (temporal shifting) can facilitate the absorption of renewables and grid decarbonization. We study DC-grid coupling models, characterizing their impact on grid dynamics (e.g. power price, carbon emissions) and DC behaviors, with the goal of finding how to effectively couple dynamic DC loads to the power grid for carbon reduction.

With a detailed grid model, we consider a spectrum of coupling models varied in who controls the dynamic load and what DC load information is shared with the grid (e.g. next hour or day’s load). Results show that understanding the effects of dynamic DC load management requires modeling the dynamics of both load and power grid. Dynamic DC-grid coupling can produce large improvements: (1) reduce grid dispatch cost (-3%), (2) increase grid renewable fraction (+1.58%), and (3) reduce DC power cost (-16.9%). However, it also has negative effects: (1) increase cost for both DCs and non-DC customers, (2) differentially increase prices for non-DC customers—fairness issue, and (3) create large power-level changes that may harm DC productivity. Such negative effects are more evident when uncoordinated DC-local control overshifts the load. Addressing these, we find that by utilizing hourly price information, constraining capacity variation, and sharing such 24-hour dynamic load with the power grid ahead of operating day, DC-local control can approximate the best performance of global grid-controlled optimization with lower DC capacity variation.

Original Document

The original document is available in PDF (uploaded 11 January, 2022 by Andrew Chien).