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Microsoft tests hydrogen fuel cells to power US data centres

For two consecutive days the backup power source at the company’s centres in Utah was generated by a 250kW hydrogen fuel cell system.

|Aug 11|magazine2 min read

For the duration of the experiment, the hydrogen cells replaced Microsoft’s diesel-powered backup generators, which are deployed in the event of power cuts. The Microsoft pilot scheme became both the largest computer backup system ever to have been powered by hydrogen, and the longest continuous test of a hydrogen fuel cell. 

The tech giant is committed to finding alternatives to carbon-intensive fuels. In another step towards becoming carbon negative by 2030, it has also recently joined the Hydrogen Council. The company has announced that the next step in its ambitions for hydrogen is to purchase and test a bigger fuel system for its data centres.

Lucas Joppa, Microsoft's chief environmental officer, said: "All of that infrastructure represents an opportunity for Microsoft to play a role in what will surely be a more dynamic kind of overall energy optimization framework that the world will be deploying over the coming years."

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