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Press Release

Caterpillar and Microsoft trial hydrogen fuel cell backup power for data centres

Mon 26 Feb 2024

Caterpillar has collaborated with Microsoft and Ballard Power Systems to demonstrate the use of hydrogen fuel cells for sustainable and reliable backup power in data centres.

This trial underscores the potential of hydrogen technology to meet the stringent uptime requirements of modern data centres.

Innovative Trial in Harsh Conditions

The demonstration, held at Microsoft’s data centre in Cheyenne, Wyoming, involved a 1.5MW hydrogen fuel cell integrated into the facility’s electrical plant.

Conducted at an altitude of 6,086ft and in below-freezing temperatures, the trial simulated a 48-hour backup power event, showcasing the fuel cell system’s capability to support critical loads in challenging environments.

Jaime Mineart, Senior Vice President of Caterpillar Electric Power, highlighted the importance of this collaboration: “This successful collaboration with Microsoft and Ballard demonstrates the potential of hydrogen fuel cells to help data centres address their critical power needs while reducing their emissions.”

Towards a Carbon-Negative Future

Sean James, Senior Director of Data Center Research at Microsoft, emphasised the project’s alignment with Microsoft’s sustainability goals: “This project’s success provides an opportunity for hyperscale providers to drive innovations in the sustainability of power generation technologies.”

The project also help Microsoft towards its goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s H2@Scale initiative and analysed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the project assessed the safety, economic viability, and environmental impact of using hydrogen fuel cells for backup power.

David Mucciacciaro, Chief Commercial Officer of Ballard Power Systems, expressed confidence in the reliability and environmental benefits of Ballard’s fuel cell technology.

“We are excited about the ability of our products to meet the critical power needs of data centre customers in this rapidly growing sector,” he remarked.

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