World’s first hydrogen-powered off-grid data centre announced

off-grid

‘Data Centre-as-a-Service’ pioneer, ECL, has announced the launch of what it claims is the world’s first modular, sustainable, off-grid data centre that uses green hydrogen as its primary power source. The company further claims to be able to deliver data centres in one megawatt (MW) blocks that can achieve 99.9999 per cent uptime.

The company also announced $7 million in seed financing, co-led by Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures. The funds will be used by ECL to expand its market presence, and aid in the construction of its first data centre at the company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, with completion scheduled for the second quarter of 2023.

Optimised for use by mid-sized data centre operators – typically large companies with a mix of cloud and on-premises IT environments – ECL’s ‘Data Centre-as-a-Service’ is said to be two-thirds the total cost of ownership of traditional colocation data centre providers when measured over five years. The community-integrated data centre is designed to consume no local resources, including power or water, and operate with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels. ECL’s modularity and lack of dependence on local utilities also means that its data centres can be designed and delivered much faster than others’, reducing planning and construction cycles from between 18 to 24 months to between six and nine months.

“We are proud to be a part of this much-needed revolution in the data centre industry, and look forward to working closely with the team as they bring this peerless innovation to market,” said Nathan Shuchami, managing partner at Hyperwise Ventures and newly appointed ECL board member. “ECL has a long lead on the competition in the delivery of a data center powered primarily by green hydrogen and we cannot wait to stand with them as they raise the curtain in Q2 2023.”

“It is exciting to see ECL investing to bring tremendously relevant and novel experience into this high growth space around customisable modular data centres that can support the growing demand for advanced and flexible computational needs and sustainable power use,” said Lily Yeung, VP of Molex Ventures.

While other data center providers have deployed hydrogen fuel cells as backup power supplies, and with some conducting trials of systems forecast for production delivery in three-to-five years, ECL asserts that it is the first provider to deliver a fully-green hydrogen-powered data centre. This leapfrog innovation is enabled by bringing together several disruptive technologies including green hydrogen-based power generation, battery energy storage and highly reliable power architecture without dependence on the utility grid.

ECL also said that its cooling innovations enable much higher density-per-rack than traditional data centre providers, a strong benefit given the increasing per-server power consumption driven by accelerating chip and system density. Water created as a by-product of hydrogen-based power generation is used to cool ECL’s server racks, eliminating the need for external water sources. Combining this with proprietary rear door heat exchange technology results in lower Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratios than any other colocation data centre provider.

With PUE of 1 representing optimal efficiency, traditional colocation providers average approximately 1.57 across all their data centres with the best-of-class able to achieve approximately 1.2 with an average of eight kilowatts of power per rack. ECL claims to achieve a PUE rating of 1.05 across all of its data centres, with up to 50 kilowatts per rack.

“The innovations we are announcing today set a new bar for flexibility and sustainability in the global data centre industry,” said Yuval Bachar, founder and CEO of ECL. “Never before has hydrogen been harnessed for use as the primary power source for the data centre and that, combined with the unmatched efficiency of our cooling system and our emissions-free operations, is unique in the world today. I would like to thank our investors at Molex and Hyperwise, whose support for our vision and recognition of our capabilities is enabling us to change the very nature and future of this industry.”

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