Microsoft trials hydrogen as back-up for datacenters

August 4, 2020

Microsoft has started testing hydrogen fuel cells as back-up power source at one of its data centers in the United States. 

The hydrogen fuel cells (250kW) have effectively powered a row of datacenters for 48 hours. Microsoft is now aiming to use 3MW systems which can replace diesel generators which currently serve as back-up power.

Image: Microsoft 

Microsoft’s switch to using hydrogen fuel cells as back-up power for its datacenters aligns with its overall mission to eliminate diesel from its total operations by 2030. Microsoft emphasized that recent cost reductions of hydrogen fuel cells offers various opportunities for reducing their carbon footprint. 


The company also emphasized that realizing the production of green hydrogen to power the fuel cells will be a valuable addition and align with their carbon commitments. According to Microsoft, the electrolyzer could be turned on during periods of excess wind or solar energy production and store this renewable energy as hydrogen. What is more, during periods of high demand, Microsoft can use the stored hydrogen to produce electricity through its fuel cells for the electricity grid. 

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