17 Dec 2021

Technology Companies to Lead the Fuel Cell Revolution for Low-Carbon Data Centres

17 Dec 2021  by   

A consortium of seven organisations has been formed by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership to develop a next-generation fuel cell platform to ensure a greener future for data centres globally.

Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, today announced the Clean Hydrogen Partnership will provide €2.5 million (approximately $2.82m) to help fund a project to develop low-carbon fuel cells to power data centres. It is hoped this could reduce carbon emissions from operations by up to 100%. The EcoEdge PrimePower (E2P2) project is a proof-of-concept initiative aiming to develop and demonstrate low environmental impact fuel cells that provide economic and resilient prime power solutions for the data centre environment.

The seven companies—Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SolidPower, TEC4FUELS and Vertiv—will explore an innovative integration of solid-oxide fuel cells with uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology and lithium-ion batteries to provide resilient and clean primary power to data centre deployments and other critical infrastructure. According to Vertiv, implementing natural gas solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) as a prime power application will be instrumental to pave the way for the use of green hydrogen for fuel cells application, for both backup and prime power systems.

“Digitalisation and the data centre industry are growing at an increasing pace and thus it is even more vital to fast-track our journey towards an environmentally sustainable future,” said Giordano Albertazzi, president for Vertiv in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “This can only be made possible by developing clean, innovative technologies such as fuel-cell solutions to provide sustainable power for the digital world. Vertiv is proud to actively contribute to the E2P2 proof-of-concept initiative and looks forward to provide next-generation power solutions to its global customers”.

The E2P2 project is the latest in a series of initiatives Vertiv has conducted around sustainability and the wider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) arena. Vertiv is also part of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA) and the European Data Centre Association (EUDCA) and contributes to the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact with the aim to meet the European Commission’s goal for climate-neutral data centres by 2030. The E2P2 project is part of the company’s effort to prioritise and support the development of clean, sustainable and renewable power solutions for application across the data centre industry.

A fuel cell for a greener future

Fuel cells are recognised as a cleaner and quieter power solution that can alleviate demand on urban power grids. They can be deployed on-site at a data centre campus. They operate using natural gas, biogas, LPG or green hydrogen—which can be transported and distributed over existing gas networks.

Vertiv believes that the E2P2 project marks an exciting step toward significant carbon reduction, whilst still meeting requirements for a highly resilient critical power supply to data centres. The consortium hopes to develop the authoritative open standard for fuel cell applications to pave the way toward commercialisation of fuel cell energy for data centres in Europe, demonstrating the industry’s potential role in achieving EU carbon reduction targets.

President of Equinix, Eugene Bergen Henegouwen said: “The E2P2 project hopes to be a breakthrough in making data centres more environmentally sustainable worldwide. Equinix has committed to mitigating our environmental impact, and this project provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the use of an innovative, clean, primary energy source. We hope it will make a considerable impact towards reaching our global commitment of 100% renewable energy and climate neutrality by 2030, as well as advancing our industry’s sustainability goals. It’s important we support the growth of the market in Europe for clean and reliable on-site power.”

The consortium will engage with the organisations that work on developing European best practices and standards to facilitate high-level concept design and interface definitions.

The E2P2 project goals are aligned to the objectives of the European Commission to rapidly accelerate the application of fuel cells to power the needs of energy-intensive sectors while achieving a greener grid. E2P2 aims to achieve multiple environmental objectives, including showcasing a real-world proof of concept of 24/7 low-carbon power that does not rely on diesel generators and supports the growing hydrogen and renewable energy economy across Europe. The intention is for the resulting units to replace the traditional power supply and generators with additional redundancies built in to maintain uptime standards.


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