Microsoft Reveals Plans for Fuel Cell Powered Data Plants

24 Apr 2012

Microsoft Data Plant

In a recent blog post, Christian Belady, General Manager of Data Center Services for Microsoft has shared his thoughts on the future of data centres and the company’s Data Plant program. Microsoft’s Data Plant vision involves establishing completely off-grid data centres by integrating them directly with sustainable power sources.

Belady seeded the idea of a data plant in 2010 in conversations at industry events and the concept has grown from there to include a variety of options either integrated with the grid for back-up, or run in island mode facilitating more remote locations. One option would be to allow a Data Plant to feed excess electricity back to the grid, as operating at full capacity would maximise generation efficiency at the site.

Currently the team is researching grid independent biogas-fuelled fuel cells and the impact of this could be significant. A 200 kW prototype data centre could offset over two million pounds of CO2 emissions per year and with larger systems the benefits would grow proportionately.

As demand for cloud computing grows, the environmental impact of this shift is receiving greater coverage in the media, including Greenpeace’s recent report on grid connected data centres. Similar companies are also pursuing fuel cell technology, such as Apple and Google with high profile installations over the past year.

The full blog by Belady can be read here.

Source: Microsoft.

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