Utilizing Green Hydrogen for Data Center Backup Power

By October 6, 2023 3   min read  (483 words)

October 6, 2023 |

2023 10 06 09 06 17

Equinix and National University of Singapore College of Design and Engineering explore the viability of hydrogen for sustainable data center power generation.

Hydrogen fuel systems could act as an efficient backup power source to keep data centers online, a new study shows.

Equinix and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Energy Research and Technology (CERT) – under the College of Design and Engineering (CDE) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) – have announced to results of their green hydrogen fuel technology study.

The study is one of the world’s first research projects to explore proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and/or alternate generator technologies as environmentally viable backup power supply options for data centers.

Several systems that can feasibly utilize hydrogen as an energy source were spotlighted as potentially viable alternative solutions that operate on renewable energy.

Based on specified conditions, environmental factors and operating requirements, data center operators will now have access to additional insights they need to help make an informed decision when implementing alternate fuel supply systems.

Hydrogen fuel cells have emerged as a potentially dependable solution to address the intermittent nature of weather-dependent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. When renewable energy generation fluctuates due to dynamic weather conditions, hydrogen fuel systems could act as an efficient backup power source so that data centers stay online. Further developing hydrogen technologies could potentially create a robust energy security buffer that reduces the effect of unpredictable power interruptions and dependence on non-renewable backup fuel sources.

Yee May Leong, Managing Director, South Asia, Equinixsaid: “This demonstrates the wealth of innovation and R&D talent available in Singapore. Representing a cumulative and concerted effort to drive meaningful impact in sustainability for the data center industry, the results are also a promising development for Singapore’s hydrogen aspirations.”

Associate Professor Lee Poh Seng, Director, Center for Energy Research and Technology, NUS College of Design and Engineeringsaid: “The feasibility study with Equinix aligns with Singapore’s national hydrogen strategy and provides actionable insights for global data center sustainability. We look forward to extending our partnership with Equinix for broader impact locally, regionally and globally.”

Associate Professor Sanjib Kumar Panda from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NUS College of Design and Engineering,said: “By partnering with Equinix, we were able to unlock new research opportunities that explore alternative green solutions to power data centers that could be applied globally.”

In 2022, Equinix invested US$45 million toward energy efficiency projects globally, resulting in associated annual energy consumption reduction of approximately 69,000 megawatt hours and a 5.5% year-on-year reduction in power usage effectiveness (PUE) – reaching a global annual average of 1.46.

In 2021, Equinix became the first data center company globally to commit to being climate neutral by 2030 for its entire global footprint aligned with an approved near-term science-based target.

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