- Microsoft has been working for making hydrogen fuel cell generators feasible as a fuel power alternative since 2013.
- These generators are utilized as backup power in data centers with successful results of powering 10 racks of servers for 48 hours of usage.
- This new generator can deliver 3 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power ten thousand computers or six hundred homes.
Microsoft revealed that it made a trial of hydrogen fuel cell generators as a replacement for diesel-powered generators. Those generators might be used as backups in data centers in case of power outages and other service halts. The good news is these new generators have no carbon emissions.
Hydrogen is a huge game changer
Since 2013, Microsoft has been testing fuel cell generators with two fuel cells inside two 40-feet-long shipping containers. The company has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Sean James, Microsoft’s director of data center research announced the news in a blog post, called the development a “moon landing” for the data center industry. Sean James said;
« What we just witnessed was, for the data center industry, a moon landing moment. We have a generator that produces no emissions. It’s mind-blowing. »
Hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe. It has long been observed as a clean energy potential. However, the high cost and technology required to separate hydrogen from the compounds in which hydrogen is formed, store it, and transport it, limited its use. With the technological advancements in recent years, it has begun to change and now, is considered a fuel power alternative.
In 2020, the Microsoft team hired Power Innovations in Salt Lake City, Utah, to construct and try out a system that could power 10 racks of data center servers in a row for 48 hours with a 250-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell system. After a successful proof-of-concept demonstration, the team trialed a 3 MW system to prove its feasibility. 3 MW is a sufficient size to replace a diesel generator at a data center that is used currently. 3 MW was more than 10 times bigger than the system the company tested in Utah. This amount of energy is enough to power about 10,000 computer servers or 600 homes.
In data centers, sustainability is a big deal as they use nearly 1 percent of the world’s electricity and produce 0.3 percent of all CO2 emissions according to research from the International Energy Agency. And hydrogen has a ton of potential to be a huge game changer.