Google: Google tests demand-response system to cut data center power consumption

Oct 10, 2023 | Posted by Abdul-Rahman Oladimeji

Google has tested a demand-response system, which will reduce data center electricity consumption during grid problems and shift non-urgent tasks to other locations. The company notes that this is an extension of its plan to shift computing work to areas where energy is carbon-free.

A blog post from Varun Mehra, technical program manager of grid services, and Raiden Hasegawa, senior data scientist, energy analytics, notes that the company has used this carbon-intelligent computing platform to move computing tasks and its associated energy to available parts on the grid where there is carbon-free energy since 2020. 
"Now, we can use this task-shifting capability for demand response — temporarily reducing power consumption at our data centers to provide valuable flexibility when it is needed, to help local grids continue operating reliably and efficiently," the blog post adds. 

Google explains, "When we receive notice from a grid operator of a forecasted local grid event, for example an extreme weather event that will cause a supply constraint, we can alert our global computing planning system to when and where it will take place. This alert activates an algorithm that generates hour-by-hour instructions for specified data centers to limit non-urgent compute tasks for the duration of the grid event, and allows them to be rescheduled after the grid event has passed."

This system has been tested in Europe in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, and Denmark during the typical peak period between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Google also tested it successfully in the US in Oregon and Nebraska and intends to use it more widely across the planet.