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Vertiv funds low-carbon fuel cell development for data centres

Vertiv funds low-carbon fuel cell development for data centres

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Vertiv announced the Clean Hydrogen Partnership will provide EUR 2.5 million to help fund a project to develop low-carbon fuel cells to power data centres. It is hoped this could reduce carbon emissions from operations by up to 100%.

The EcoEdge PrimePower (E2P2) project is a novel proof-of-concept initiative aiming to develop and demonstrate low environmental impact fuel cells that provide economic and resilient prime power solutions for the data centre environment.

A consortium of seven companies—Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SolidPower, TEC4FUELS and Vertiv—will explore an innovative integration of solid-oxide fuel cells with uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology and lithium-ion batteries to provide resilient and clean primary power to data centre deployments and other critical infrastructure. Implementing natural gas solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) as a prime power application will be instrumental to pave the way for the use of green hydrogen for fuel cells application, for both backup and prime power systems.

“Digitalization and the data centre industry are growing at an increasing pace and thus it is even more vital to fast-track our journey towards an environmentally sustainable future” said Giordano Albertazzi, president for Vertiv in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. “This can only be made possible by developing clean, innovative technologies such as fuel-cell solutions to provide sustainable power for the digital world. Vertiv is proud to actively contribute to the E2P2 proof-of-concept initiative and looks forward to provide next-generation power solutions to its global customers”.

The E2P2 project is the latest in a series of initiatives Vertiv has conducted around sustainability and the wider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) arena. Vertiv is also part of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA) and the European Data Centre Association (EUDCA) and contributes to the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact with the aim to meet the European Commission’s goal for climate-neutral data centres by 2030. The E2P2 project is part of the company’s effort to prioritize and support the development of clean, sustainable and renewable power solutions for application across the data centre industry.

A greener future for the industry
Fuel cells are recognized as a cleaner and quieter power solution that can alleviate demand on urban power grids. They can be deployed on-site at a data centre campus, and operate using natural gas, biogas, LPG or green hydrogen—which can be transported and distributed over existing gas networks.

The E2P2 project marks an exciting step toward significant carbon reduction, whilst still meeting requirements for a highly resilient critical power supply to data centres. At the heart of this vision, is a market-oriented approach that integrates innovation and stakeholder engagement to maximize acceptance and uptake opportunities of stationary fuel cells as reliable, efficient and decentralised prime power sources for other industrial scale applications.

The consortium hopes to develop the authoritative open standard for fuel cell applications to pave the way toward commercialization of fuel cell energy for data centres in Europe, demonstrating the industry’s potential role in achieving EU carbon reduction targets.

Highlights/Key Facts

  • E2P2 is a joint project from Equinix, InfraPrime, RISE, Snam, SolidPower, TEC4FUELS and Vertiv, partially funded with a grant by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, from the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission.
  • The consortium will engage with the organizations that work on developing European best practices and standards to facilitate high-level concept design and interface definitions.
  • The E2P2 project goals are aligned to the objectives of the European Commission to rapidly accelerate the application of fuel cells to power the needs of energy intensive sectors while achieving a greener grid. E2P2 aims to achieve multiple environmental objectives, including showcasing a real-world proof of concept of 24/7 low-carbon power that does not rely on diesel generators and supports the growing hydrogen and renewable energy economy across Europe. The intention is for the resulting units to replace the traditional power supply and generators, with additional redundancies built in to maintain uptime standards.
  • Vertiv will leverage its extensive experience in AC power systems as well as in prefabricated modular solutions for data centres to design and develop an integrated fuel-cell power module, including the Vertiv Liebert EXL S1 uninterruptible power supply (UPS) (https://bit.ly/3DZTn84) and Vertiv HPL lithium-ion batteries (https://bit.ly/3m3X9ae).
  • Close collaboration between the Vertiv AC Power line of business based in Italy and its Integrated Modular Solutions line of business based in Croatia will be key to engineer an all-in-one 100 kW module as a proof-of-concept by 2023, with the final goal of developing a commercially viable product that can support multiple MWs of critical load and facilitate a greener future for data centres worldwide. In parallel, Vertiv is also working with key global customers to develop new hydrogen-based generators that will help replace diesel generators.
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