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‘First-ever’ fuel cell-powered data centre in Southeast Asia to be explored by GDS and SK ecoplant

Written by Wed 6 Sep 2023

Data centre operator GDS and South Korean energy affiliate SK ecoplant have announced a partnership to trial fuel cell power supplies for an upcoming Singapore data centre.

The trial will begin with a small-scale fuel cell installation, initially using natural gas instead of hydrogen.

The application of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology will be explored to generate power from green hydrogen as a main power source. SK ecoplant will collaborate with its strategic partner, Bloom Energy, to generate low-carbon electricity through the deployment of SOFC technology.

“This collaboration… sets the stage for large-scale adoption of green energy in the future,” said William Huang, Chairman and CEO of GDS.

Once regional hydrogen infrastructure, supply chain, and regulations are well-established, the companies will explore broader use of SOFC.

“GDS [is working to be] the first to implement SOFC technology to power a data centre, and ultimately establishing the first-ever fuel cell-powered data centre in Southeast Asia,” added Huang.

What is solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology?

SOFC generates low-carbon electricity. Fuel cells convert hydrogen or other renewable power sources into electricity, offering a cleaner process with minimal emissions compared to conventional sources.

“We will speed up targeting various commercialisation fuel cell markets. We will take the lead in exports by preoccupying the global fuel cell market through continuous cooperation with domestic companies and Bloom Energy,” said Kyung-il Park, CEO of SK ecoplant.

GDS will also explore the supply of locally generated power from imported hydrogen sourced from energy partners. The data centre operator said these use cases will serve as critical proof of concepts within the region, shaping the evolution and advancement of hydrogen as a reliable power source.

These initiatives align with Singapore’s goal to achieve 50% low-carbon hydrogen electricity by 2050 as part of its National Hydrogen Strategy.

In a previous partnership between GDS and SK ecoplant, the companies promoted eco-friendly fuel cell power for Southeast Asian data centres.

Singapore eases data centre moratorium

Singapore recently granted GDS and three other operators the right to develop new data centre projects in Singapore, as the country prepares to end a four-year moratorium.

The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) based their decision on key factors, including sustainability, connectivity, computing, and the economy.

Prior to this, Singapore enforced a moratorium on new data centre developments. This was enforced because the land-scarce country had 60 data centres with a capacity of 357MW.

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Written by Wed 6 Sep 2023

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