Equinix, Bloom Energy plan 1-MW fuel cell project in California

Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), a data center company, and Bloom Energy on May 20 announced a 1-MW biogas fuel cell project at the SV5 International Business Exchange (IBX) data center located in Silicon Valley, California.

The deployment of fuel cells supports Equinix’s long-term sustainability goal of using 100% clean and renewable energy across its global platform of more than 100 data centers. The 1 MW Bloom Energy fuel cell will provide an estimated 8.3 million kilowatt-hours per year, powering a portion of the SV5 data center.

The fuel cell uses a proprietary solid oxide technology to generate electricity through a clean electrochemical process using air and fuel and resulting in only water and a small amount of carbon dioxide as by-products. The installation utilizes no combustion and is associated with a 15 percent carbon dioxide reduction over the local Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) grid or at least 1.6 million pounds of avoided CO2 emissions from the California grid and that is before the use of biogas.

Biogas is methane gas captured from decomposing organic matter such as that from landfills or animal waste. By using biogas Equinix avoids the use of natural gas—a fossil fuel. SOx (sulfur oxides), NOx (nitrogen oxides) and other harmful smog-forming particulate emissions are virtually eliminated with the use of Bloom Energy fuel cells.

The project also includes uninterruptible power modules that are configured to protect a portion of the data center’s energy load from electrical outages, reducing reliance on traditional back-up equipment.

Equinix currently gets approximately 30% of its global energy from clean, renewable sources. Over time, Equinix plans to deliver on its long-term goal of using 100% clean and renewable energy by using a variety of mechanisms including fuel cells or solar panels, power purchase agreements, utility renewable energy programs, renewable energy credits and carbon offsets.

Sam Kapoor, chief global operations officer for Equinix, said: “This project demonstrates Equinix’s commitment to find cost-effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint and move toward 100 percent renewable energy. By working with Bloom Energy to purchase 100 percent biogas and fuel cells, we’re able to support the energy needs of our customers in an environmentally responsible way.”

Said Peter Gross, vice president of mission critical systems for Bloom Energy: “Companies are increasingly turning to data center colocation services in order to interconnect with other businesses and they want to do this in an environmentally responsible way. By deploying Bloom Energy fuel cells, Equinix is taking a leadership position in sustainability. The clean and modular nature of Bloom’s technology makes us uniquely suited to meet the growing demand for renewable power to support cutting edge IT infrastructure.”

Bloom Energy is a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly efficient onsite power from multiple fuel sources. Founded in 2001, Bloom Energy systems are currently producing power for many Fortune 500 companies. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.