Data center provider Equinix bets big on Bloom Energy fuel cells

Data center provider Equinix is making a big bet on fuel cells to power its facilities by installing natural gas-powered fuel cells at 12 of its U.S. data centers. It’s part of a push for the firm to be 100% reliant on renewable fuels, and it could set an example for other data centers in power management.

Equinix uses fuel cells developed by Bloom Energy, a leader in the data center energy market that has been profiled by 60 Minutes and whose giant “batteries” are installed at data centers run by eBay, Apple, NTT, CenturyLink and Verizon.

Bloom’s fuel cells produce significantly fewer carbon emissions than traditional gas-fueled power plants, and natural gas is cleaner burning. Also, the Bloom cells don’t require water, unlike traditional power plants, which need large amounts of water to generate energy and keep cool. 

The technology produces the energy on-site rather than piping it in over the electrical grid. eBay, for example, uses Bloom fuel cells to power its Utah data center and uses the electrical grid for backup. In the old scenario, eBay would use the grid for the primary source and diesel generators for backup.

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