Canadian Manufacturing

Ballard, Caterpillar and Microsoft to produce back-up power for data centres

The project is supported and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the H2@Scale initiative and backed by the National Renewable Energy Lab. 

November 22, 2021  by CM Staff

The Microsoft datacenter site in Quincy, Washington will host the demonstration project. (CNW Group/Ballard Power Systems Inc.)

VANCOUVER— Ballard Power Systems announced that the company has launched a three-year collaboration with Caterpillar Inc. and Microsoft to demonstrate a power system incorporating large-format hydrogen fuel cells to produce reliable and sustainable backup power for data centres. The project is supported and partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the H2@Scale initiative and backed by the National Renewable Energy Lab.

Caterpillar experts in advanced power technologies, controls and system integration are working alongside Microsoft experts in data centre design as well as Ballard experts in fuel cell design, to demonstrate a 1.5 MW backup power delivery and control system that would support current diesel engine systems, while striving to achieve a significantly reduced emissions profile.

Ballard will provide an advanced, 1.5 MW ClearGen-II hydrogen fuel cell power generator. As the prime contractor on the project, Caterpillar is providing the overall system integration, power electronics, and controls that form the central structure of the power solution, which will be fuelled by low-carbon-intensity hydrogen. Microsoft is hosting the demonstration project at a company data centre in Quincy, Washington. NREL is performing analyses on safety, techno-economics, and greenhouse gas impacts.

“At Caterpillar, we focus on supporting our customers with reliable, resilient and economical power solutions while achieving their climate-related goals,” said Jason Kaiser, Vice President of Caterpillar Electric Power, in a statement.

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“This hydrogen fuel cell demonstration project enables us to collaborate with industry leaders to take a large step toward commercially viable power solutions that also support our customers in making their operations more sustainable.”

Randy MacEwen, Ballard’s President & CEO said in a statement that the company is excited to be collaborating with a complementary team of global industry leaders on this demonstration project.

“The results of this project will provide key insights into the capability of fuel cell systems to scale and serve multi-megawatt data centres. The project will also explore the scalability of fuel cell systems powered by low carbon-intensity hydrogen from cost and performance perspectives. Ballard’s industry leading PEM technology is well suited for customers undergoing energy transition and requiring high power backup applications featuring its quick start up ability, proven durability, and load following capability,” added MacEwan.


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