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Rolls-Royce and Daimler Truck AG team up on fuel-cell generators for data centres

Written by Tue 26 May 2020

First demonstrator to be operational by the end of the year

Rolls-Royce and Daimler Truck AG have announced they will team up to co-develop fuel cell generators for data centres, with the companies planning a demo launch later this year.

The fuel cells themselves will be supplied by Daimler Truck AG, one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers, and fellow automaker group Volvo. Last year both companies signed a preliminary agreement to manufacture the energy devices on a large scale.

Rolls-Royce’s power systems division will then work with Daimler to develop emergency power generators for the data centre market under the MTU brand.

“With the agreement for stationary fuel-cell systems concluded, we are already demonstrating very concrete opportunities for the commercialization of this technology through the joint venture,” stated Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.

Time to ditch diesel?

Fuel-cell generators are gaining traction as a CO2-neutral alternative for traditional diesel-powered data centre emergency power generators, but they are still controversial and reasonably unproven at scale.

According to Uptime Institute, fuel cell generators typically cost more than traditional generators in terms of kilowatt-hour (kWh) per dollar ($). In addition, their steady load requirement leads to design and cost complications.

For these reasons, diesel generators are still widely considered the most cost-effiectice and reliable means of ensuring continuous power and remain the preferred option for many operators despite their high-particulate and CO2 emissions.

Uptime nevertheless expects more projects to turn to alternatives like fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries this year, in the presence of mounting pressure for operators to reduce carbon footprints.



Written by Tue 26 May 2020


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