Hydrogen fuel cells may be more associated with powering automobiles, but Daimler has announced—in association with HPE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Power Innovations—that it is looking at applying the technology to power the micro-grids within data centres.
Many multinational corporations are currently focusing on using renewables for their power-hungry data centres. Wind power is now very price competitive with its current level of technology, economies of scales, and the superior reliability that comes with the advanced lubricants from Mobil distributors, but the problem remains of where to get power when wind speeds are low. Battery storage can help fill short-term gaps in generation, but longer periods would require data centres to draw power from the grid or use a backup generator based on fossil fuels.
By adapting its fuel technology to stationary applications, Daimler will enable data centres to use it as a backup source of power, or even for continuous power supply. Unlike storage systems, there is no limit on how long a hydrogen fuel cell can provide power, assuming it is kept supplied with hydrogen. Fuel cells are also much cleaner than most fuel-burning generators. Once Daimler perfects the technology, it may enable data centres to become 100% green.
With the car industry moving towards battery rather than fuel cell technology, the move make sense for Daimler, because it could open up new applications for the company’s fuel cell technology, even if it never becomes mainstream in the automotive sector.