A Microsoft data center in Washington State will host a hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project.
The project will test the reliability of a power system incorporating large-format hydrogen fuel cells to produce reliable and sustainable backup power. Caterpillar will provide system integration, power electronics, and controls, while Ballard is supplying an advanced hydrogen fuel cell module.
The U.S. Dept. of Energy is partially funding the project through the H2@Scale initiative. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will perform analyses of safety, techno-economics, and greenhouse gas impacts.
"We continue to invest in research and advanced development in hydrogen fuel cells as one of the various pathways toward our commitment to be carbon negative by 2030," said Christian Belady, Distinguished Engineer and VP, Advanced Development, Cloud Operations + Innovation at Microsoft. "This latest project with Caterpillar will provide valuable insights into how to leverage hydrogen fuel cells for backup power in our datacenters at scale."
The project aims to demonstrate that the hydrogen fuel cell system can provide 1.5 MW of backup power to meet or exceed expectations set by current diesel engine systems.
The system will be fueled by low-carbon-intensity hydrogen, the companies said.
The Biden administration is making massive investments in hydrogen technologies as part of its effort to decarbonize the American power grid by 2035. More than $9 billion for research and deployment of clean hydrogen is included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law last week.
Funding for hydrogen in the bipartisan infrastructure bill:
- $8 billion for four clean hydrogen hubs to demonstrate the production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen
- $500 million for clean hydrogen manufacturing and recycling to support a clean hydrogen domestic supply chain
- $1 billion for demonstration, commercialization and deployment to decrease the cost of electrolyzers