Data center: Microsoft tests hydrogen instead of diesel for emergency power

Cloud operator Microsoft has successfully powered a number of its servers in a data center for 48 hours with hydrogen from fuel cells, as the company announces. In the announcement, Microsoft describes this as the world’s first known test, the “get a long-term clean energy economy going” can.

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Up to now, giant diesel generators have been used for the emergency power supply of entire data centers, and thus a fossil fuel. So also at Microsoft. According to the announcement, this only contributes around one percent to the company’s total CO2 emissions. However, the use of diesel is absolutely necessary for the continuous operation of the Azure data centers in the event of a power failure, as with all other providers.

“In recent years, the cost of hydrogen fuel cells has dropped so much that they now represent an economical alternative to diesel-powered emergency power units.”Microsoft writes about its tests. That obviously fits very well into the company’s plan to become and become climate neutral by 2030 to want to completely do without diesel – if business with the oil industry should continue, as we criticized in an analysis.

The fuel cell system, which Microsoft has now tested as an emergency power supply, has an output of 250 kW and can operate a series of ten fully populated server racks for 48 hours without any problems. Next, Microsoft would like to test a system with 3 MW output, which should then be on a par with the diesel generators used to date.

In order to supply an entire data center with electricity using fuel cells for 48 hours in the event of a very long power failure, Microsoft estimates the need for around 100 tons of hydrogen. In order to ensure security of supply here, the company is considering whether and how it could act itself. However, there are no concrete details yet.

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