Microsoft's data center in Quincy, Wash., will be the site of a three-year demonstration project to test large-format hydrogen fuel cells as a sustainable backup power source.

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 Laboratory.

Ballard Power, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, will provide its 1.5 MW ClearGen II hydrogen fuel cell power generator for the demo. Prime contractor Caterpillar will oversee system integration, power electronics, and the controls forming the project's central structure, which will be fueled by low-carbon-intensity hydrogen. NREL will perform analyses on safety, techno-economics and greenhouse gas impacts.

"We continue to invest in research and advanced development in hydrogen fuel cells as one of the various pathways toward our commitment to be carbon negative by 2030," Christian Belady, distinguished engineer and VP of advanced development, cloud operations and innovation at Microsoft, said in a prepared statement. "This latest project with Caterpillar will provide valuable insights into how to leverage hydrogen fuel cells for backup power in our datacenters at scale."

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Editor - Clearing Up

Steve began covering energy policy and resource development in the Pacific Northwest in 1999. He has been editor of Clearing Up since 2003, and has been a fellow at the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources and University of Texas.