Assessments of data centers for provision of frequency regulation

Yangyang Fu, Xu Han, Kyri Baker, Wangda Zuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


There are numerous opportunities for data centers to participate in demand response programs considering their large energy capacities, flexible working environments and workloads, redundant design and operation, etc. As a type of demand response, frequency regulation requires fast response, and its potential is not fully explored by data centers yet. This paper proposes a synergistic control strategy for data center frequency regulation which uses both IT and cooling systems. It combines power management techniques at the server level with control of the chilled water supply temperature to track the regulation signal from the electrical market. A frequency regulation flexibility factor is also proposed to increase the IT capacity for frequency regulation. The performance of the control strategy is studied through numerical simulations using an equation-based object-oriented Modelica platform designed for data centers. Simulation results show that with well-tuned control parameters, data centers can provide frequency regulation service in both regulation up and down. The performance of data centers in providing frequency regulation service is largely influenced by the regulation capacity bid, frequency regulation flexibility factor, workload condition, and cooling mode of the cooling system, and not significantly influenced by the time constant of chillers. In addition, compared with a server-only control strategy, the proposed synergistic control strategy can provide an extra regulation capacity of 3% of the design power when chillers are activated. When chillers are deactivated, both strategies have a similar regulation capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115621
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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