Microsoft has contracted Enchanted Rock to develop a microgrid capable of powering its data center in San Jose, California.

The microgrid would be fully supported by renewable natural gas (RNG).

In case power is lost from the utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the project includes 224 0.45 MW renewable natural gas generators to provide electrical power to support the data center, according to project filings.

The project also includes two Tier 4 compliant diesel administrative generators with 1.25 MW for one building and 0.5 MW for the other.  The microgrid would include an onsite 115 kV substation with two 115 kV electrical supply lines that would connect to PG&E’s Los Esteros Substation.

The backup generating facility would generate up to 99 MW, which is the maximum load of the data center.

Enchanted Rock plans to source RNG captured from facilities that emit methane, such as food waste and agricultural operations. Contracts are being finalized with “a major central supplier who sources from multiple sources,” according to Allan Schurr, chief commercial officer for the company.

The RNG would be injected upstream into the gas pipeline to offset the use of fossil gas.

According to Enchanted Rock, the project would out-perform current California Air Resources Board emissions requirements for distributed generation, with hourly local emissions 80%-96% lower than Tier 4 diesel standards.

I am hopeful that one day all data centers will replace their backup power systems with carbon-negative, clean renewable natural gas,” said state senator Ben Hueso, who represents California’s 40th district. “Today’s announcement will set a precedent I believe all of California’s roughly 240 data centers should follow.”

Permits are pending for the project, which is awaiting approval from the California Energy Commission.

Enchanted Rock plans to handle monitoring, optimization and management of the microgrid. The Houston-based developer has deployed more than 200 microgrids in the U.S., totaling 556 MW of capacity.

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