A Microsoft power plant will use a hydrogen fuel cell

Microsoft plans to exploit a non-carbon-based power source. The company has just demonstrated how to produce 3MW of power from a hydrogen source.

Green energy has arrived

The company is in the final phase of finalizing its project. It hopes to be able to supply its data centers without having to resort to carbon. Thanks to a hydrogen fueling system, developed by Plug Power, and based in New York. Said system works on the basis of hydrogen fuel cells which fill two 13 meter shipping containers.

This 3 MW demonstration is a great first for Microsoft. It is the technology of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. It combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce at the same time: electricity, water and heat. Voila’green energybased on green hydrogen, obtained by electrolysis.

The company then carried out acceptance tests by running a data center through the new system. The test required the same load that diesel generators normally supply. The bottom line was to see that the data center was functioning the same way and wouldn’t have to suffer power outages.

On the Microsoft blog, a press release informs that once green hydrogen is available and viable, its implementation would extend to all sectors. This includes all places that need backup power.

A power source that supports Microsoft’s zero carbon goals

Sean James, head of data center research at Microsoft, spoke about acceptance testing. “ For the data center industries, the success of these tests is comparable to the joy associated with the first space expedition. A bit like a first moon landing. One of our generators didn’t emit anything, it’s incredible.»

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The company, supporting the use of renewable energy, is committed to reducing its carbon footprint to zero by 2030. It has started signing power purchase agreements. These agreements oblige it to respect a certain balance at the level of its data centers in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the company had backup generators in place. Their use is rare but they all run on diesel, which produces carbon dioxide. And even if Microsoft does not depend on it, it promises to get rid of it permanently in 2030.

Mark Monroeprincipal engineer of Microsoft speaks: “We thought long and hard about the costs and availability of hydrogen. And we are convinced that this is the ultimate solution. We started from a rack and are now at a row, a test on a room and then a data center. »

Plug is planning marketable versions of this fuel cell system. Microsoft expects this version to use it in a research data center whose location is secret. Towards the end of July, Microsoft had already succeeded in supplying one of its data centers with hydrogen for 48 hours.