State-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) yesterday broke ground for a cloud data center in Changhua County, as the firm is seeking to build a smart grid to handle rising electricity consumption amid increasing demand for energy from renewable sources.
“Taiwan is undergoing an energy transition,” Taipower spokesman Chang Ting-shu (張廷舒), said. “As the proportion of renewable energy such as solar and wind power increases, we need to improve management of our electricity system to match supply and demand.”
The new data center would store up to 1 million terabytes of information, allowing the utility to leverage the power of big data to give users greater control, Taipower chairman Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said.
Photo: Chang Tsung-chiu, Taipei Times
“Using cloud data, we will be able to increase our ability to forecast the amount of renewable energy available and increase control over electricity distribution,” Yang said. “With the help of smart meters, users would be able to understand their own electricity consumption, allowing them to participate in energy conservation during peak usage hours.”
As the share of energy from renewable sources rises, matching supply and demand becomes increasingly challenging, Taipower said.
On the demand side, cloud data services could incentivize users to reduce electricity use during peak hours, while on the supply side, they would help Taipower operate a new generation of gas-powered plants that can quickly increase or decrease output, Chang said.
“We are planning to build smaller, more responsive gas plants that can be very responsive to demand,” Chang said.
“We have 1 million customers using advanced metering infrastructure,” he said. “For most users, the price of electricity is the same no matter when they use it. This creates sharp peaks where demand becomes very tight. Smart meters and new pricing schemes incentivize using electricity in off-peak hours, when there is plenty of reserve.”
The data center would handle “the tremendous amount of information” created once all Taiwanese households have the new technology installed, he said, adding that large industrial users are already incentivized by lower prices during off-peak hours.
“This will increase the resilience of our grid and increase its efficiency,” Chang said.
The center is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified “green building,” using 25 percent less energy than an average data center, Taipower said, adding that it would run on locally generated renewable energy.
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