Microsoft developing fuel cells for powering cloud servers

Last week, the environmental group Greenpeace slammed Microsoft and other tech companies for powering their cloud data servers primarily by coal or nuclear sources instead of renewable energy sources. As it turned out, Microsoft's Global Foundation Services blog posted a new entry that same week that describes efforts by the company to use alternative energy sources to power future server farms.

The concept is called a Data Plant and would allow server installations to have their own independent fuel cell as their primary source of power. The system could be hooked up to the normal power grid which would serve as a back up, or it could be set up outside the power grid if a server installation is too far away from the normal power lines.

The fuel cell would get its fuel from biogas. More specifically, the blog states that the Data Plant would be built on top of a existing water treatment plant or landfill location. The fuel cell would then be powered by methane gas that's naturally generated as waste from either the water treatment plant or the landfill.

Microsoft says that the emissions created by a fuel cell power solution are almost zero compared with using fossil fuel sources. The company claims it is currently researching its fuel cell proposal and is talking with a number of cities about setting up a prototype of the Data Plant. There's no word on when this might be put into operation.

Image via Microsoft

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