Microsoft and Primus Partner on Datacenter Energy Storage

June 19, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Primus Power and Microsoft announced a program to advance energy storage at datacenters globally. The program will be carried out in collaboration with NRG Energy, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and battery technology providers, including Primus Power. This pilot program is part of a broader focus by Microsoft, as part of its datacenter strategy, to explore next generation technologies for energy storage and management.

The project is one component of Microsoft's multi-faceted global environmental sustainability strategy. It aims to determine the best way to effectively store renewable energy at scale to ensure electricity is inexpensive and available for future use.

Speaking from the White House, Primus CEO Tom Stepien, called the gathering an extraordinary example of a nation marshaling diverse forces to advance clean energy initiatives that are vital to US national interests. He noted: "Here in this room, there are representatives from government and private industry, start-ups and established giants, entrepreneurs and captains of industry, collectively committed to commercializing technologies with game-changing sustainability implications for our country and the planet."

Microsoft's initiative will test storage technologies that use batteries -- which are currently installed at all of its datacenters -- to act as grid resources to improve reliability, energy efficiency and usability of renewable energy. Multi-hour duration flow batteries, like those pioneered by Primus, are being evaluated for their ability to deliver uniform power for twenty years without fade or component replacement.

The project is one component of Microsoft's multi-faceted global renewable energy strategy, which has three goals: reducing the impact of operations, enabling resource efficiency through IT, and accelerating research breakthroughs that benefit society at large.

"Datacenters are the engine that drives the Microsoft Cloud, and we are committed to investing in innovation breakthroughs at our datacenters that can help improve energy efficiency," said Robert Bernard, Microsoft's Chief Environmental Strategist. "By using high performance batteries we can improve both energy efficiency, as well as our ability to use variable energy sources like wind and solar power. In the future, with these types of innovation, the datacenter could effectively operate independently of grid capacity constraints."

Stepien added: "We're thrilled that our technology was selected by Microsoft to support this important project. Datacenters are a practical near-term application for energy storage. As significant consumers of electricity, there is significant economic value in powering them from renewable sources. Energy storage is key to achieving that goal. Weaning datacenters from the grid will be a real game-changer. It's exciting to be part of the team that's committed to making it happen."