Hydrogen fuel cells to replace diesel backup for data center in the Netherlands

Hydrogen fuel cells to replace diesel backup for data center in the Netherlands

March 1, 2022 2 By Tami Hood

NorthC has announced that it will be using generators powered by green H2 at its Groningen facility.

NorthC, a data center company from the Netherlands, has announced its installation of green hydrogen fuel cells at its Groningen facility for their backup power needs.

The renewable H2 will be used to provide emergency backup power instead of diesel generators.

This move makes the data center located in the north of the country the first in Europe to use hydrogen fuel cells for its backup power, according to the company’s news release. The move is intended to cut down on CO2 emissions produced by emergency power generators as it will replace backup power generators using diesel fuel.

The 500KW module is expected to save the use of tens of thousands of liters of diesel per year. As a result, the company predicts that it will reduce its CO2 emissions by over 78,000 kilograms per year.

Hydrogen fuel cells used for emergency backup power

The hydrogen fuel cells are more expensive to operate than diesel now, but that is expected to change.

According to NorthC, while the green H2 used to power the generators is certainly more expensive than diesel at the moment, it expects that this situation will improve. The company stated that over time, renewable hydrogen will become increasingly cost-competitive over time as the price of H2 production falls but as the cost of diesel continues to rise. It suggests that over the 20-year lifespan of the module, it will have become the more economical choice.

NorthC hasn’t disposed of its existing diesel generators. Instead, it is investigating the potential for converting them into units that can be powered mainly by H2 as well. That move would reduce the emissions from those generators by more than 80 percent, according to a company statement.

“With these hydrogen cells, our data centre in Groningen has a European first for emergency power supplies. We are now going to investigate if we can also apply this technology in our other data centres, initially mainly in new branches or expansions of existing branches,” said NorthC Datacenters COO Jarno Bloem. “The ultimate goal, of course, is to use green hydrogen as a primary power supply, but that is still something to address in the future. An important condition is a drop in the costs of hydrogen. This requires subsidies and an increase in scale. But given the enormous advantages that this form of energy offers, I am convinced that it is just a matter of time.”

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