Microsoft Wants Future Data Centers to Run on Landfill Gas
Microsoft is researching the idea of locating its data centers near landfills and wastewater treatment plants from which they could generate their own power. A recent blog by Christian Belady, general manager of Data Center Services for Microsoft, outlined the company’s vision of grid independent fuel cell powered data centers utilizing biogas as a fuel source. He notes that data centers require a consistent and very reliable power supply. To date, the industry strategy has been to employ a costly and complex array of equipment such as UPS, back-up generators, maintenance bypass circuits, power conditioning, etc. to assure the consistency. That equipment itself adds another source of failure. “Without a bold shift in strategy, our entire industry will become more dependent on a costly, antiquated, and constricted power grid,” says Belady.
The solution he offers is to change where companies source energy for their facilities – and to relocate the data centers towards those sources. Biogas has the benefit of being 100 percent renewable. According to the blog, a biogas powered reciprocating engine will typically yield 30% efficiency, a turbine 40% and a fuel cell 60%. Moreover, fuel cells employ a clean electrochemical reaction that results in nearly zero emissions making it easier to secure air quality permits. Microsoft is now researching a small-scale experiment to measure the performance and benefits and is seeking a location to test a prototype, Belady said.
Source: Waste Business Journal