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Optimal Operation of Data Centers in Future Smart Grid


The emergence of cloud computing has established a growing trend towards building massive, energy-hungry, and geographically distributed data centers. Due to their enormous energy consumption, data centers are expected to have major impact on the electric grid by significantly increasing the load at locations where they are built. However, data centers also provide opportunities to help the grid with respect to robustness and load balancing. For instance, as data centers are major and yet flexible electric loads, they can be proper candidates to offer ancillary services, such as voluntary load reduction, to the smart grid. Also, data centers may better stabilize the price of energy in the electricity markets, and at the same time reduce their electricity cost by exploiting the diversity in the price of electricity in the day-ahead and real-time electricity markets. In this thesis, such potentials are investigated within an analytical profit maximization framework by developing new mathematical models based on queuing theory. The proposed models capture the trade-off between quality-of-service and power consumption in data centers. They are not only accurate, but also they posses convexity characteristics that facilitate joint optimization of data centers' service rates, demand levels and demand bids to different electricity markets.

The analysis is further expanded to also develop a unified comprehensive energy portfolio optimization for data centers in the future smart grid. Specifically, it is shown how utilizing one energy option may affect selecting other energy options that are available to a data center. For example, we will show that the use of on-site storage and the deployment

of geographical workload distribution can particularly help data centers in utilizing high-risk energy options such as renewable generation. The analytical approach in this thesis takes into account service-level-agreements, risk management constraints, and also the statistical characteristics of the Internet workload and the electricity prices. Using empirical data, the performance of our proposed profit maximization models for data centers are evaluated, and the capability of data centers to benefit from participation in a variety of Demand Response programs is assessed.

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