Microsoft trials hydrogen-powered data facilities

Jul 29, 2020 06:10 PM ET
  • The software program titan has actually started examining hydrogen fuel cells as a back-up source of power at one of its U.S. information centers. A 250 kW pilot system efficiently powered part of the center for 48 hrs as well as the business is currently eyeing 3 MW systems to change back-up diesel generators.
Microsoft trials hydrogen-powered data facilities
Image: Power Innovation

U.S. software program titan Microsoft this week introduced the successful test of a hydrogen fuel cell system to power one of its data facilities. The business claimed the 250 kW pilot job offered evidence of idea as well as, beyond back-up power, Microsoft claimed it has a much larger vision of playing a leading role in the growth of a 'hydrogen economy.'

Collaborating with Utah-based developer Power Innovations, Microsoft began examining the pilot system in September as well as accomplished a turning point last month when the fuel cell device powered a data center for 48 hours. The 250 kW system is sufficient to power a complete row of 10 server shelfs at a Microsoft Azure information facility. "It is the largest computer system back-up power system that we know, that is running on hydrogen, and also it has actually run the lengthiest constant examination," claimed Mark Monroe, who works with Microsoft's group for information center progressed development.

Monroe's team currently desires a 3 MW fuel cell system, to match the dimension of the diesel generators presently providing back-up power for data facilities.

Microsoft wishes to remove diesel from its operations by 2030 and also, offered recent price reductions in gas cell technology, hydrogen offers a progressively viable route. An additional target involves the firm's information centers reaching 99.999%-- "5 nines"-- solution availability.

" We do not use the diesel generators significantly," claimed Monroe. "We start them up once a month to see to it they run as well as provide a tons test once a year to make sure we can transfer lots to them appropriately, however, generally, they cover a power outage less than one-time each year."

While the Microsoft information focus the hydrogen system was utilized on also deploys batteries to cover the time required to fire up a diesel generator, longer-term back-up solutions are required. The business is likewise reviewing other remedies but the generation profile of a gas cell appears a good match to its requirements. "An auto fuel cell has the reaction time like a diesel generator does," said Monroe. "It can activate swiftly. It can be all set for a full load within secs. You can floor it, allow it off, let it idle."

Hydrogen economic climate

Instead of sitting idle most of the time, as diesel generators do, Microsoft sees a duty for hydrogen facilities past providing back-up power. "All of that facilities represents a chance for Microsoft to play a role in what will certainly be a much more dynamic type of general energy optimization structure that the world will certainly be deploying over the coming years," claimed Lucas Joppa, the firm's primary ecological policeman.

Joppa claimed there is a lot of job to be done to scale-up the generation, transport as well as circulation of hydrogen for such an economic climate to establish and Microsoft has stated it is associated with discussions concerning exactly how it can stimulate such advancements.

" What if you can take all of these assets the data facility has and also integrate them into the grid in a way that assists to additional accelerate decarbonization of the grid more generally, instead of just a point solution for the information facility itself," claimed Brian Janous, general supervisor of Microsoft's team for datacenter power and also sustainability strategy. "That's where I assume every one of this obtains fascinating."