Enchanted Rock to build RNG microgrid for Microsoft
By Jack Burke20 June 2022
Will backup data center to ensure continuous operations
Texas, USA-based Enchanted Rock, a provider of electrical resiliency-as-a-service, was contracted by Microsoft to develop California’s largest microgrid fully supported by renewable natural gas (RNG).
The microgrid will provide Microsoft’s San Jose, California, data center with backup power to ensure continuous operations.
“Today’s digital world relies on the uptime and continuity of data center operations,” said Thomas McAndrew, CEO of Enchanted Rock. “This continuity does not need to come at the expense of companies’ carbon emission reduction goals or local air quality. Microsoft’s decision to pursue a renewable microgrid marks another milestone in the industry as businesses continue to move away from conventional, less carbon-friendly methods, and we expect this project will demonstrate that large-scale, reliable, and cost-effective backup generation with net-zero carbon can become the new standard.”
With ambitious goals of becoming carbon negative by 2030, Microsoft chose Enchanted Rock for its ability to develop a reliable microgrid with net-zero emissions. The project will out-perform current California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions requirements for distributed generation, the most stringent in the world, with hourly local emissions 80%-96% lower than Tier 4 diesel standards while delivering higher reliability, the company said.
The facility will incorporate Enchanted Rock’s 0.45 kw module, enhanced to achieve CARB DG emissions levels, clustered to replace the typical large diesel units. The first phase of the project will include 140 units.
“This project helps Microsoft take a step towards our goal of eliminating dependence on petroleum-based diesel, while increasing the resilience of our data center and providing a much-needed capacity resource to the local grid,” said Brian Janous, General Manager – DC Energy & Sustainability at Microsoft.
Power for the microgrid will be supplied by net-zero carbon RNG, injected upstream into the gas pipeline to offset the use of fossil gas. Enchanted Rock sources RNG captured from facilities that emit methane such as food waste and agricultural operations, making it part of the circular economy with neutral or negative carbon intensity.
“California needs practical alternatives to diesel backup generation in order to protect public health and prevent catastrophic climate change,” said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air, a statewide organization that advocates for clean air policies. “This means deploying flexible, dispatchable solutions that can tackle the intermittent nature of renewables, while reducing the environmental and public health impacts of diesel-fueled generators.”