Tech Consortium to Lead Low Carbon Fuel Cell Development for Data Centers.

A consortium of seven organizations has been chosen by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership to develop a next-generation fuel cell platform to ensure a greener future for data centers across the world. The Clean Hydrogen Partnership will provide EUR 2.5 million to help fund the project aimed at developing low-carbon fuel cells to power data centers. It is hoped this could reduce carbon emissions from operations by up to 100%. The EcoEdge PrimePower (E2P2) project is a novel proof-of-concept initiative aiming to develop and demonstrate low environmental impact fuel cells that provide economic and resilient prime power solutions for the data center environment.

The seven companies—Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SOLIDpower, TEC4FUELS and Vertiv—will explore an innovative integration of solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) with uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology and lithium-ion batteries to provide resilient and clean primary power to data center deployments and other critical infrastructure. Implementing natural gas SOFC as a prime power application will be instrumental to pave the way for the use of green hydrogen for fuel cells application, for both backup and prime power systems.

Equinix has a long-term goal to become climate neutral by 2030 and achieve 100 per cent renewable energy across its global footprint. The E2P2 project is part of the company’s effort to prioritize and support the development of clean, sustainable, and renewable power solutions for application across the data center industry, while also targeting its own ambitious climate goals.

“The Office of the CTO at Equinix is chartered with driving the next-generation of technologies and architectures to advance the vision of Platform Equinix” adds Justin Dustzadeh, Chief Technology Officer at Equinix. “A key component of our vision is to deliver our solutions whilst meeting our important sustainability commitments. The E2P2 project enables us to demonstrate a novel architecture for power generation, distribution and storage; support a broader transition from natural gas to sustainable hydrogen, and support our goal of operating a climate-neutral business by 2030.”

Fuel cells are recognized as a cleaner and quieter power solution that can alleviate demand on urban power grids. They can be deployed on-site at a data center campus, and operate using natural gas, biogas, LPG or green hydrogen—which can be transported and distributed over existing gas networks.

Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director, Clean Hydrogen Partnership comments, “With its ongoing support of research and development of fuel cells for stationary applications, the Clean Hydrogen Partnership (previously FCH JU) managed to set a strong basis for European industry to lead in the deployment of new technologies. We are proud to see that the E2P2 project will provide clean fuel cell-based applications for the decarbonization of data centers within a solid consortium gathering fuel cell providers, system integrators as well as data center operators and energy utilities. Projects such as E2P2 are absolutely essential in offering solutions to un-tap markets with great potential and contribute to our ambitious EU climate targets.”

The E2P2 project marks an exciting step toward significant carbon reduction, whilst still meeting requirements for a highly resilient critical power supply to data centers. At the heart of this vision, is a market-oriented approach that integrates innovation and stakeholder engagement to maximize acceptance and uptake opportunities of stationary fuel cells as reliable, efficient, and decentralized prime power sources for other industrial-scale applications.

According to Dr Jon Summers, Scientific Lead in Data Centers, RISE “This decade is undeniably focused on building a future that is environmentally sustainable. We all know that digitization and data centers are key elements of this future, where innovation is at the heart of our journey to our global 2030 goals. As researchers at RISE, we are invested to be a strong part of the E2P2 team, to push the technology envelope and to transparently demonstrate new sustainable approaches of prime power for the future digital infrastructure.”

Giordano Albertazzi, President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Vertiv adds “Digitization and the data center industry are growing at an increasing pace and thus it is even more vital to fast-track our journey towards an environmentally sustainable future. This can only be made possible by developing clean, innovative technologies such as fuel-cell solutions to provide sustainable power for the digital world. Vertiv is proud to actively contribute to the E2P2 proof-of-concept initiative and looks forward to providing next-generation power solutions to its global customers”.

The consortium hopes to develop the authoritative open standard for fuel cell applications to pave the way toward commercialization of fuel cell energy for data centers in Europe, demonstrating the industry’s potential role in achieving EU carbon reduction targets.

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