Ambitious plans unveiled to develop the first green hydrogen data centre

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Atos and HDF Energy have revealed bold plans to develop a complete end-to-end long-term solution to supply data centres with green hydrogen generated by renewable energy. The new solution will be the first available on the market for data centres with heavy power consuming workloads, with the aim to demonstrate, in 2023, a first full production center operated using green hydrogen.

Atos will provide a complete end-to-end green data center solution by designing and providing the hardware, software and integration services that make it possible to exploit the electricity produced by green hydrogen so that it can be used in data centres. This includes using the most advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to optimise energy consumption. HDF Energy will supply a power plant, which will provide predictable and firm electricity through its high-powered fuel cells. These cells will be powered by green hydrogen derived from photovoltaic or wind farms.

A major technological challenge

Data centres have high energy needs, operate 24/7, 365 days a year, and cannot experience the slightest energy flaw. Therefore, the approach taken by Atos and HDF is particularly ambitious, as by its very nature, solar or wind energy is clean but intermittent, variable in its production and unpredictable, making it an unstable energy.

At a time when data center energy consumption is becoming a key issue and it is essential to consider new energy models, this new solution will enable data centre operators and cloud operators to anticipate potential future constraints set by regulation authorities and offer a sustainable but reliable solution to their customers, with no compromise on their business.

Combining expertise to reduce the carbon footprint

Atos’ solution includes a software layer to predict the data centre’s power consumption needs and adapt the resource (green hydrogen) accordingly. This complex process is not only based on the data centre’s activity and size but also considers external data from the environment, such as weather forecasting. To this, Atos brings its HPC expertise – an area in which it has several innovations which limit the energy consumption of its systems.

With its expertise in high-power hydrogen technologies, HDF has developed a new type of power plant which is totally stable, non-polluting and competitive, compared to fossil fuel generators called Renewstable. The availability constraints of the data centre will be incorporated in the design of the plant and will enable HDF to offer the highest level of service for the most demanding consumers.

“We are constantly seeking to develop solutions to leverage our own sustainable journey towards decarbonisation and to support our clients in theirs,” Arnaud Bertrand, SVP, head of strategy and innovation for big data & security at Atos, says. “In this perspective, the solution to be developed will be the first solution available on the market that will enable a full production data centre with very demanding workloads to be operated using green hydrogen. This meets the expectations not only of operators, but also of the market and public authorities.”

Damien Havard, CEO at HDF added that as a pioneer in hydrogen-energy it is very important to demonstrate that its Hydrogen-to-Power solutions are suitable for customers with a strategic need for a reliable electricity supply. “This further development into the digital industry, where energy consumption is increasing every day, opens a considerable worldwide market for us,” he adds. “The HDF-Atos partnership offers the first unique and sustainable infrastructure for this huge market.”

This initiative represents a new and major milestone in Atos’ Net Zero 2028 decarbonisation ambition. In 2020, Atos has already accelerated its data center decarbonisation programme with encouraging progress in energy efficiency, which has materialised into a 15 per cent decrease of global energy consumption of Atos data centres versus 2019. In addition, carbon-free and renewable energy now power 55 per cent of all of Atos data centres (versus 32 per cent in 2019). Additionally, since 2014, Atos has been providing carbon neutral hosting services to its clients by offsetting 100 per cent of its data centres’ emissions. Atos also recently signed the Climate Neutral Data center Pact together with 35 other companies and associations from across Europe, emphasizing the industry’s contribution to the ‘European Green Deal’.

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