Caterpillar announced it has successfully completed its demonstration project to show how hydrogen fuel cells can be used to supply reliable and sustainable backup power to data centers.
In collaboration with Microsoft and Ballard Power Systems, Caterpillar integrated a hydrogen fuel cell into Microsoft’s data center electrical plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to support its critical load.
The 1.5 MW hydrogen fuel cell was partnered with a Caterpillar Microgrid Controller to operate two Cat Power Grid Stabilization 1260 battery energy storage systems.
The demonstration was conducted in a challenging environment, which featured an installation location at 6,086 feet above sea level and in below-freezing conditions.
During the demonstration, Caterpillar simulated a 48-hour backup power event, and the company’s system was able to power the multi-megawatt data center and ensure uninterrupted power, achieving an overall uptime of 99.999%.
“This project’s success provides an opportunity for hyperscale providers to drive innovations in the sustainability of power generation technologies,” said Sean James, Senior Director of Data Center Research at Microsoft. “The research and findings of the hydrogen fuel cell demonstration will help us towards our goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030.”
During the demonstration, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory was able to collect significant data by analyzing the safety, techno-economics, and greenhouse gas impacts of the system.
The project was supported and partially funded by the DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office under the H2@Scale initiative, which invites stakeholders to collaborate to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, and utilization across multiple energy sectors.