Analysis of Hydrogen Infrastructure for the Feasibility, Economics, and Sustainability of a Fuel Cell Powered Data Center

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Data centers used for internet data services, cloud computing, and/or data storage consume vast amounts of electricity and are increasing rapidly in capacity. Consequently, their power consumption has raised concerns about energy sustainability and environmental impacts. Large-scale, on-site renewable energy could help reduce data centers’ carbon footprint; however, wind and solar power alone cannot provide an uninterrupted power supply to computer servers due to their natural variability. Instead, reliable power integration can be achieved by using fuel cells powered by hydrogen from sustainable resources (e.g., wind and solar energy). Establishing a hydrogen infrastructure will be critical for realizing these benefits and establishing fuel cells as a viable power source for data centers. To facilitate the development of novel carbon-free fuel cell data enters, this paper presents renewable power integrated with hydrogen infrastructures in four scenarios to provide reliable hydrogen supply from production to storage. Various paths were analyzed toward a hydrogen supply infrastructure by determining the proper component sizes and calculating the cost of meeting the server load. We used a microgrid modeling software, Hybrid Optimization of Multiple Energy Resources (HOMER), and studied the feasibility of fuel cell powered data centers employing renewable hydrogen. The modeling results show various renewable integration configurations to meet reliable and sustainable power requirement under four scenarios for a carbon-free data center.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 103357
Number of pages13
JournalSustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-84674


  • Data center
  • Fuel cells
  • Hydrogen
  • Renewable power
  • Sustainability


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