Microsoft and Caterpillar collab on data center hydrogen fuel cell backup

Microsoft and Caterpillar collab on data center hydrogen fuel cell backup

February 29, 2024 0 By Alicia Moore

The companies are working together to demonstrate the potential of H2

Microsoft, Caterpillar and Ballard Power Systems have launched a collaboration through which they will demonstrate the way a hydrogen fuel cell system can be used at data centers as reliable backup power.

The test places H2 technology into the spotlight in high-demand applications

The demonstration is taking place in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at a Microsoft data center. It is using a 1.5MW hydrogen fuel cell that has been worked into the electrical plant at the facility. By choosing this location, it means that the test occurs at temperatures below freezing and at a 6,086-foot altitude. As such, it demonstrates the way the technology powered by H2 can function in challenging environments while supporting critical loads.

“This successful collaboration with Microsoft and Ballard demonstrates the potential of hydrogen fuel cells to help data centres address their critical power needs while reducing their emissions,” said Caterpillar Electric Power Senior Vice President Jaime Mineart.

Using hydrogen fuel cell tech to go beyond decarbonization

“This project’s success provides an opportunity for hyperscale providers to drive innovations in the sustainability of power generation technologies.,” said Microsoft Senior Director of Data Center Research Sean James while focusing on the way in which the project aligns with the sustainability commitments made by Microsoft.

Hydrogen fuel cells - Microsoft logo on glass building

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2030 goals to become carbon negative

hydrogen news ebookThis project is another step in contributing to Microsoft’s broader goal of achieving carbon negativity – not just carbon neutrality – by 2030.

The project has the support of the H2@Scale initiative from the US Department of Energy and was analyzed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Part of the value of the project is in conducting assessments of the economic viability, safety, and environmental impact of choosing hydrogen fuel cell technology to meet the backup power needs of a Microsoft data center.

“We are excited about the ability of our products to meet the critical power needs of data centre customers in this rapidly growing sector,” said Ballard Power Systems Chief Commercial Officer David Mucciacciaro as he expressed the confidence he felt in the environmental benefits and overall reliability advantages of using the H2 tech from Ballard.

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