Data center investments are increasing in response to growing demands from consumers and businesses for computing power and digital services. In parallel, regulations for data center sustainability requirements are getting tougher.

The data center industry is booming and eager for land, which can push up property prices in residential areas. Meanwhile, with power constraints on energy grids, governments are increasingly aware of the industry’s carbon footprint. Data centers and data transmission networks account for about 1% of global electricity, the International Energy Agency has estimated, although some experts say that number could be even higher.

In short, data center sustainability is in the spotlight.

But how can data centers scale with confidence and support computing-intensive technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and 5G  — all while reducing their carbon footprint and complying with tougher environmental regulations?

The industry has taken several steps to make progress, including advancing eco-friendly refrigerants used in data centers. Voluntary industry initiatives are also helping drive these efforts forward. For example, the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact in Europe between cloud infrastructure providers and data center operators, is a commitment to make European data centers climate neutral by 2030. However, more needs to be done.

The fuel cell opportunity

Part of the answer to this dilemma may be fuel cells that use hydrogen or other fuels to produce electricity. Fuel cells – which have been around since the 1960s and were used in the first NASA space missions − have long been tipped as a clean and efficient source of power for consumers and industry, including data centers.

Progress has been slow, but the EcoEdge PrimePower (E2P2 for short), a European hydrogen and fuel cell project with support from Vertiv, may help accelerate these efforts.

The 2.5-million-euro Clean Hydrogen Partnership, funded by the European Commission, was announced in December 2021.

The partnership aims to develop a proof-of-concept for how low-carbon fuel cells can provide green power for data centers.

The consortium of seven companies – Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SolidPower, TEC4FUELS, and Vertiv – will attempt to integrate solid-oxide fuel cells with uninterruptible power supply technology and lithium-ion batteries to provide resilient and clean primary power for data centers and other critical infrastructure.

Fuel cells are recognized as a cleaner and quieter power solution that can reduce the strain on urban …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

How fuel cells could power the transition to a greener digital infrastructure industry

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