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I was expecting something else! Thought it would be some type of energy storage.
 

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I used to invest in a company named Enernoc which did the opposite. Instead of generating electricity during spikes, they had a huge database of retail customers who were willing to get paid to cut their energy use during emergency peak times. Think of nationwide retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, or Target who could remotely cut the fluorescent lighting by 1/3 and nudge the AC or heating up or down a little for local or regional locations. I've since lost touch with the company as I made some cash and got out. I think the stock doubled at some point and now I rarely buy single stocks any more - switched to diversified mutual funds to reduce my risk. I'm sitting on the sidelines waiting for that next AAPL or AKAM.
 

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I guess that for Texas, replacing diesel generators with natural gas is an innovation. Now if they'd installed batteries, I'd have been more impressed. But I suppose, "one small step for man" and all that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I was expecting something else! Thought it would be some type of energy storage.
I used to invest in a company named Enernoc which did the opposite. Instead of generating electricity during spikes, they had a huge database of retail customers who were willing to get paid to cut their energy use during emergency peak times. ....
@ ghostgs: & JStrnad

Yeah, that would have sweetened the pot a bit for me as well. Maybe as storage technology advances, they'll add that in the mix.

@ llninja:

Our utility, and others, already do the same thing for both commercial and residential customers.

I participate in that at our place. Should I be at home during the day - at peak usage times - I have the option to override my utility's shift in thermostat settings; such as when I'm at home sick and the temperature shift would make things worse for me. I've given my permission for them to shift it 4*F during "Conservation Events" - up in the summer and down in the winter - when the need occurs. My employer participates as well.

This program has allowed our municipally-owned utility to defer building new plants to accommodate those event variables. In fact, they've stated on their site that they enjoy the luxury of selling a little of those savings back to the grid managers, ERCOT, at a nice profit which works to keep OUR rates lower.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I guess that for Texas, replacing diesel generators with natural gas is an innovation. Now if they'd installed batteries, I'd have been more impressed. But I suppose, "one small step for man" and all that.
As I read it, there's a little more to it than just replacing a fuel source. The ability to sell "on-demand" peaking reserve power to the grid is their money maker. Backup power is just what the site customer gets for hosting the installation.

I've already fired off an e-mail to my company's management with the article attached. We collaborate with H-E-B in a number of areas, so this might get their attention. We've got huge diesel generators at our campus for our 24/7 data center and building chillers, but nothing for the rest of the place.

We're a priority #2 (i believe) on the delivery schedule for resupply should an extensive disaster affect our area. Hospitals and various public safety facilities are a priority #1 for refueling.
 

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As I read it, there's a little more to it than just replacing a fuel source. The ability to sell "on-demand" peaking reserve power to the grid is their money maker. Backup power is just what the site customer gets for hosting the installation.

I've already fired off an e-mail to my company's management with the article attached. We collaborate with H-E-B in a number of areas, so this might get their attention. We've got huge diesel generators at our campus for our 24/7 data center and building chillers, but nothing for the rest of the place.

We're a priority #2 (i believe) on the delivery schedule for resupply should an extensive disaster affect our area. Hospitals and various public safety facilities are a priority #1 for refueling.
It's funny. The other day I received a campus-wide email asking to conserve power to help avoid brownouts. So I wandered around the building, closed a bunch of shades to keep the sun out and add that extra tiny bit of insulation, and nudged up a bunch of thermostats a degree or two. Then I realized that the elephant in the room was the 6-13 GW of power consumed by the computer room next door. My little bit of conservation was like peeing in an ocean compared to the racks and racks of computers and the cooling needed to keep them running.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's funny. The other day I received a campus-wide email asking to conserve power to help avoid brownouts. So I wandered around the building, closed a bunch of shades to keep the sun out and add that extra tiny bit of insulation, and nudged up a bunch of thermostats a degree or two. Then I realized that the elephant in the room was the 6-13 GW of power consumed by the computer room next door. My little bit of conservation was like peeing in an ocean compared to the racks and racks of computers and the cooling needed to keep them running.
Truth be told, a data center will not immediately crater during elevated temperatures. The heat tends to shorten the life of the components - but it's not immediate.

As an example, there was an IBM mainframe running OUTDOORS throughout the entire 1968 Hemisfair (South Texas summer heat and all) in San Antonio. I use to work with a guy (long since retire now) that was on the team that supported the system. No hiccups at all. They did, however, have to vacuum out the dust on a daily basis.

Right now, our racked-server battery backup system (half-cycle fail-over) will hold everything up for a little over an hour without the help of the diesel generator (~15-seconds startup) - with room cooling shut down. Should the generator fail, we have a shutdown list of non-essential servers to vary off to extend that time. The mainframes are on a different battery backup system. Both connect to the generator on separate circuits.

As far as I know, our data center is not on the same circuit that participates in the "Conservation Events" that I mentioned earlier. That may, primarily, be because the mainframes are water-cooled.
 

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Truth be told, a data center will not immediately crater during elevated temperatures. The heat tends to shorten the life of the components - but it's not immediate.

As an example, there was an IBM mainframe running OUTDOORS throughout the entire 1968 Hemisfair (South Texas summer heat and all) in San Antonio. I use to work with a guy (long since retire now) that was on the team that supported the system. No hiccups at all. They did, however, have to vacuum out the dust on a daily basis.

Right now, our racked-server battery backup system (half-cycle fail-over) will hold everything up for a little over an hour without the help of the diesel generator (~15-seconds startup) - with room cooling shut down. Should the generator fail, we have a shutdown list of non-essential servers to vary off to extend that time. The mainframes are on a different battery backup system. Both connect to the generator on separate circuits.

As far as I know, our data center is not on the same circuit that participates in the "Conservation Events" that I mentioned earlier. That may, primarily, be because the mainframes are water-cooled.
I've heard that Google decided to raise the temps of their data centers and just deal with higher failure rates of HDDs due to heat as it was cheaper to replace drives than cool the rooms. This is counter to the 65-68 degree data centers I've grown accustomed to.

The new generation of data center will be cooled with 90+ degree water allowing for the hot water to be cooled with ambient air with heat exchangers outside the building for most of the calendar year. It seems like we should just put the computers near the arctic or northern Canada or deep underground.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've heard that Google decided to raise the temps of their data centers and just deal with higher failure rates of HDDs due to heat as it was cheaper to replace drives than cool the rooms. This is counter to the 65-68 degree data centers I've grown accustomed to.

The new generation of data center will be cooled with 90+ degree water allowing for the hot water to be cooled with ambient air with heat exchangers outside the building for most of the calendar year. It seems like we should just put the computers near the arctic or northern Canada or deep underground.
If accurate, they may be relying on redundant servers for up-time. I would then think that their load-balancers would also be exposed to the same temps - more single points of failure to worry about - unless you've got the bucks to spread groupings across multiple load-balancers.
 

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I guess that for Texas, replacing diesel generators with natural gas is an innovation. Now if they'd installed batteries, I'd have been more impressed. But I suppose, "one small step for man" and all that.
They're doing two things: displacing diesel generators and providing smart distributed generation.

While both are important the 2nd thing is the more important innovation. If you have that idea widely implemented, you have a ready-made market for battery systems.

This model as implemented seems like it could be disrupted at the distribution level: if it stops receiving payments from the network, the model won't work.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
They're doing two things: displacing diesel generators and providing smart distributed generation.

While both are important the 2nd thing is the more important innovation. If you have that idea widely implemented, you have a ready-made market for battery systems.

This model as implemented seems like it could be disrupted at the distribution level: if it stops receiving payments from the network, the model won't work.
I haven't looked for recent numbers, but ERCOT works like a "spot market" for the Texas grid system. Long ago I saw numbers quoted in the ~$0.50/kWh for utilities selling power to the grid during peak demand.
 
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