Processor is fast becoming one of my favorite sites to point folks that want to get a good introductory grasp on Green IT topics. Its latest feature on fuel cells is one of the reasons why.
Chris A. MacKinnon’s article explores the clean (in relative terms) energy technology that took center stage when Bloom Energy’s “Bloom Box” was unveiled earlier this year. I expressed my reservations about hopping on the Bloom Energy Server bandwagon at the time, especially since its fuel cells fell short of the “five nines” availability that data center operators strive for. Oh, and it costs a bundle, making fuel cells a dicey proposition as a primary power source.
But what about backup or supplemental power? That’s where fuel cells can really work their uptime-boosting magic.
Data centers are also discovering the benefits of fuel cells, [Sandra Curtin, research director at Breakthrough Technologies] says. “Data centers require high-quality, reliable power,” she says, “and a fuel cell fits the bill.” She says one of the earliest converts to fuel cell technology was First National Bank of Omaha, which installed four 200kW fuel cells in 1999, and they’re still operating today. Prior to that, the bank was depending upon conventional battery UPS systems during voltage sags and short-term outages and diesel generators during long-term outages. When the bank switched to fuel cells, power was being delivered at slightly better than five-nines availability.
Catch the rest of MacKinnon’s insightful article here.
Image credit: Bloom Energy