Europe’s hydrogen power conversation: A sustainable alternative

Alex Rabbetts and Damien Wells discuss why, given the 20-year lifecycle of today's data centres, there is no time for interim steps in migrating away from the use of diesel to fuel secondary and standby power requirements. For the industry to meet the commitments of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact (CNDCP) and achieve the goal of carbon neutral data centres by 2030, owners and operators must start acting now for an assured, self-regulated and sustainable future with zero pollution. One potential solution, Alex says, is the use of hydrogen fuel as a clean, primary power source for data centres, using the grid to provide back-up power. Although a useful by-product of wind generation, Europe currently has under 1 GW/year of electrolyzer capacity for renewable hydrogen installed, with around another 1.5-2.3 GW of planned projects. The European Commission has an EU target of at least 6 GW by 2024. However, is the data centre industry too conservative and risk adverse to overcome the barriers to adoption? Will it require EU legislation and hard deadlines to eliminate the use of diesel from data centre operations?

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