Microsoft is building the world’s first gas-powered datacenter

September 28, 2017

We already know that Microsoft is investing in next-generation clean energy from their past activities in the energy space. Yesterday, Microsoft announced that they are building the world’s first gas-powered datacenter in partnership with McKinstry and Cummins.

Microsoft is doing this pilot project in its Advanced Energy Lab in Seattle. They have a 20-rack datacenter and the racks are directly connected to natural gas pipes and fully powered by integrated fuel cells instead of traditional electrical stuff. Microsoft claims that this method nearly doubles the energy efficiency of datacenters while reducing costs.

Generally, if a datacenter is powered by an electrical grid, electricity needs to be transmitted from a power plant through multiple substations and transmission lines, and then it must be converted into the right voltage for a datacenter. So much energy is wasted in this process. Microsoft’s fuel cells powered datacenter significantly reduces the amount of energy lost in power generation, transmission, and power conversion since the fuel cells are powered directly from the natural gas line. Since there are fewer items involved, there are fewer potential points of failure when compared to electrical systems. Not only it improves the reliability, it also saves cost.

Christian Belady, General Manager & Sean James, Principal, Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations wrote the following about this announcement,

Why is the world’s leading cloud services company tinkering with the datacenters that power the cloud? Our commitment to innovation is part of Microsoft’s culture. This innovation is aligned with our strategy to minimize resource impact, use our resources more efficiently, and reduce embedded carbon and water in all our assets, while driving energy efficiency. That is how we “make the datacenter disappear,” all while still providing world-class Microsoft Cloud Services.

You can learn more about this project here.

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