Caterpillar, Ballard and Microsoft to use hydrogen in datacenter

The project will help understand how to leverage hydrogen fuel cells for backup power in the data centres at scale.

Caterpillar, Microsoft and Ballard Power Systems will collaborate on a three-year power system demo project using large-format hydrogen fuel cells to produce backup power for Microsoft data centres.

Caterpillar engineers are working alongside Microsoft experts in data centre design and Ballard experts in fuel cell design to demonstrate a 1.5 MW backup power delivery and control system to fulfil the needs set by current diesel engine systems.

The project is supported and partially funded by the US Department of Energy (DoE) under the H2@Scale initiative and backed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

The parties responsibilities are:

  • Caterpillar is providing the overall system integration, power electronics and controls that form the central structure of the power solution, which will be fuelled by low-carbon-intensity hydrogen.
  • Microsoft is hosting the demonstration project at a company data centre in Quincy, Washington, US.
  • Ballard is supplying an advanced, 1.5 MW ClearGenTM-II hydrogen fuel cell power generator.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is performing analyses on safety, techno-economics, and greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts.

Jason Kaiser, VP at Caterpillar, said, “This hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project enables us to collaborate with industry leaders to take a large step toward commercially viable power solutions that also support our customers in making their operations more sustainable.”

Christian Belady, VP at Microsoft, added, “We continue to invest in research and advanced development in hydrogen fuel cells as one of the various pathways toward our commitment to be carbon negative by 2030.”

Randy MacEwen, CEO of Ballard, commented, “The results of this project will provide key insights into the capability of fuel cell systems to scale and serve multi-megawatt data centres. The project will also explore the scalability of fuel cell systems powered by low carbon-intensity hydrogen from cost and performance perspectives.”

Shahkar Ali

Shahkar is the regional representative for Asia covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact him directly via email or follow him on social media.
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