Allan Schurr marveled at the speed of the AI revolution and the resulting insatiable demands for power by data centers.

He said the scale of data center customers’ ambitions is “10x” what it was just a couple years ago, adding that it’s no longer uncommon to see these companies asking for 500 MW of power for a single campus.

“It seems like an arms race right now to see who could be bigger,” said Schurr, who is Chief Commercial Officer at Enchanted Rock.

The current and future demands on the grid placed by data center, crypto and manufacturing customers present an opportunity for Enchanted Rock, a company with strong bona fides in onsite and backup power generation.

With all of this demand, Schurr noted many data centers will face delays for a firm grid connection while transmission and other infrastructure get built. Interconnection could take three years on the low end or up to ten years in certain markets.

Therefore, Enchanted Rock is promoting its “Bridge-to-Grid” microgrid solution, so data centers and other power-intensive industries can build, commission and operate on their own schedules.

The company’s solution is multi-purpose, depending on the status of power. When grid power is delayed, the microgrid provides prime power to the facility. With grid power, the microgrid can provide “flexible capacity,” backing up the facility and providing power during peak conditions to prevent grid emergencies.

Typically, data centers distribute diesel generators building-by-building throughout their campus for backup power, but these generators can’t support the grid like natural gas-fired generation can.

“For us to be able to get the power we need, we have to be somewhat flexible, self-sufficient during certain hours of the year,” said Schurr. “And you can’t do that with diesel generators.”

Natural gas-fired turbines or reciprocating engines would be the workhorse of Enchanted Rock’s microgrids. Schurr said the company evaluates about ten factors at a given site to determine the appropriate technology, including the duration of bridge power, environmental constraints, and space requirements.

Schurr said if long-term backup power is needed after interconnection, using reciprocating engines for bridge power offers the advantage of already having the equipment on-site, eliminating the need for additional diesel generators. This functionality, he noted, along with reciprocating engines’ ability to start quickly, often makes them the most cost-effective solution.

In general, Schurr said he’s starting to see a trend where companies are thinking about strategically locating their facilities near gas resources. Some data centers have asked Enchanted Rock to help them with site evaluations.

“I’d say some of the some of the more forward-thinking ones are absolutely looking at gas infrastructure as a siting criteria,” said Schurr. “They’ve never had to do that before.”

Enchanted Rock said it can go to market with the microgrid as a service, where the company owns the generating assets and provides bridge power and flexible/backup power needed during the grid connection period. Schurr noted that while it’s not common due to regulatory hurdles, some data centers do want to own the generating assets.

“We find a lot of them like it as a service, they like someone to take full accountability for building it, operating it, maintaining it, so that they can focus on just adding more data center capacity,” said Schurr.

Enchanted Rock hasn’t announced many data center projects yet. However, one of its microgrid projects will be fueled by renewable natural gas (RNG) to power a Microsoft data center in San Jose, California. The project aims to ensure maximum uptime for the facility by providing backup power during grid outages. Procurement of the RNG is scheduled to begin in early 2026. 

Schurr predicts that in five years, big data centers projects won’t be able to get a firm interconnect in most locations and will have to come with flexible generation component for peaking hours. Just another hint at the paradigm shift taking place in the power sector.

“I talked to the CFO of a big utility a few months ago,” he said. “And he said, [data centers] used to come in here asking for concessions. And now it’s like, ‘do you have power’?”

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