Hydrogen generators could replace diesel: Microsoft

  • Market: Electricity, Hydrogen, Oil products
  • 29/07/22

US technology firm Microsoft said it hopes to eventually replace diesel generators at all its data centres, having successfully trialled a 3MW hydrogen fuel cell system as backup power generation for a site in upstate New York. It said the technology could work for a range of industries.

The 3MW fuel cell system, comprising a pair of 40ft shipping containers each holding 18 proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, was built by US hydrogen firm Plug, which is headquartered in the state.

The 125kw fuel cells are the largest Plug has made, and the 3MW system is company's biggest application, Microsoft said. Microsoft has been gradually increasing the size of its hydrogen trials since 2018, as part of its plan to be carbon negative by 2030.

Plug is focused on commercialising the system and Microsoft said it will deploy one of the second-generation systems at a data centre, probably in a location where air-quality standards prohibit diesel generators.

The grid-powered data centres require backup in case of power outages, and require power equivalent to the consumption of 600 homes.

"Once green hydrogen is available and economically viable, this type of stationary backup power could be implemented across industries, from data centres to commercial buildings and hospitals," it said. Microsoft may now look to deploy around 1,000 fuel cell generators, the company's director of data centre research Sean James said.

One hurdle would be building a robust supply chain to deliver sufficient scale, he said, and another is the high cost of renewable hydrogen. But this is falling, and hydrogen will eventually become cost-competitive with power from diesel, the company said.

Microsoft and its peers can catalyse the scale-up of renewable hydrogen and fuel cells, the firm's chief environmental officer Lucas Joppa said.

"If we feel confident in using these to ensure continuity of our data center services, that's a big measure of faith," Joppa said.


Sharelinkedin-sharetwitter-sharefacebook-shareemail-share

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

News
17/05/24

Houston refiners weather hurricane-force winds: Update

Houston refiners weather hurricane-force winds: Update

Adds Calcasieu comment, update on flaring reporting Houston, 17 May (Argus) — Over 2mn b/d of US refining capacity faced destructive winds Thursday evening as a major storm blew through Houston, Texas, but the damage reported so far has been minimal. Wind speeds of up to 78 mph were recorded in northeast Houston and the Houston Ship Channel — home to five refineries with a combined 1.5mn b/d of capacity — faced winds up to 74 mph, according to the National Weather Service . Further South in Galveston Bay, where Valero and Marathon Petroleum refineries total 818,000 b/d of capacity, max wind speeds of 51 mph were recorded. Chevron's 112,000 b/d Pasadena refinery on the Ship Channel just east of downtown Houston sustained minor damage during the storm and continues to supply customers, the company said. ExxonMobil's 564,000 b/d Baytown refinery on the Ship Channel and 369,000 b/d Beaumont, Texas, refinery further east faced no significant impact from the storm and the company continues to supply customers, a spokesperson told Argus . Neither Phillips 66's 265,000 b/d Sweeny refinery southwest of Houston nor its 264,000 b/d Lake Charles refinery 140 miles east in Louisiana were affected by the storm, a spokesperson said. There was no damage at Motiva's 626,000 b/d Port Arthur, Texas, refinery according to the company. Calcasieu's 136,000 b/d refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was unaffected by the storm and operations are normal, the refiner said. Marathon Petroleum declined to comment on operations at its 593,000 b/d Galveston Bay refinery. Valero, LyondellBasell, Pemex, Total and Citgo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on operations at their refineries in the Houston area, Port Arthur and Lake Charles. A roughly eight-mile portion of the Houston Ship Channel from the Sidney Sherman Bridge to Greens Bayou closed from 9pm ET 16 May to 1am ET today when two ships brokeaway from their moorings, and officials looked in a potential fuel oil spill, according to the US Coast Guard. The portion that closed provides access to Valero's 215,000 b/d Houston refinery, LyondellBasell's 264,000 b/d Houston refinery and Chevron's Pasadena refinery. Emissions filings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are yet to indicate the extent of any flaring and disruption to operations in the Houston area Thursday evening, but will likely be reported later Friday and over the weekend. Gulf coast refiners ran their plants at average utilization rates of 93pc in the week ended 10 May, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), up by two percentage points from the prior week as the industry heads into the late-May Memorial Day weekend and beginning of peak summer driving season. The next EIA data release on 22 May will likely reveal any dip in Gulf coast refinery throughputs resulting from the storm. By Nathan Risser Houston area refineries Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Find out more
News

Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul reallocates gas supply


17/05/24
News
17/05/24

Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul reallocates gas supply

Sao Paulo, 17 May (Argus) — Natural gas supply in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul had to be redistributed because of the historic floods in the state, with diesel potentially making its way back as an power plant fuel to leave more gas available for LPG production. Gasbol, the natural gas transportation pipeline that supplies Brazil's south, does not have capacity to meet demand from the 201,000 b/d Alberto Pasqualini refinery (Refap), state-controlled Petrobras' Canoas thermal power plant and natural gas distributors in the region, according to Petrobras' then-chief executive Jean Paul Prates said earlier this week. The Santa Catarina state gas distributor has adjusted its own local network to meet peak demand in neighboring Rio Grande do Sul via the pipeline transportation network. The Canoas thermal plant is running at its minimum generation at 150GW, with 61pc coming from its gas turbine. The plant was brought on line to reinstate proper power supply after transmission lines in the south were affected by the floods. Petrobras plans to use a diesel engine to increase power generation. The current approved fuel cost (CVU) for diesel in the Canoas plant is of R1,115.29/MWh. Petrobras is also operating Refap at 59pc of its maximum installed capacity, at 119,506 b/d. Heavy showers in Rio Grande do Sul since 29 April brought unprecedented flooding to the state, causing a humanitarian crisis and infrastructure damage. The extreme weather has left 154 people dead, 98 missing and over 540,000 people displaced, according to the state's civil defense. By Rebecca Gompertz Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Houston area refiners weather hurricane-force winds


17/05/24
News
17/05/24

Houston area refiners weather hurricane-force winds

Houston, 17 May (Argus) — Over 2mn b/d of US refining capacity faced destructive winds Thursday evening as a major storm blew through Houston, Texas, but the damage reported so far has been minimal. Wind speeds of up to 78 Mph were recorded in northeast Houston and the Houston Ship Channel — home to five refineries with a combined 1.5mn b/d of capacity — faced winds up to 74 Mph, according to the National Weather Service . Further South in Galveston Bay, where Valero and Marathon Petroleum refineries total 818,000 b/d of capacity, max wind speeds of 51 Mph were recorded. Chevron's 112,000 b/d Pasadena refinery on the Ship Channel just east of downtown Houston sustained minor damage during the storm and continues to supply customers, the company said. ExxonMobil's 564,000 b/d Baytown refinery on the Ship Channel and 369,000 b/d Beaumont, Texas, refinery further east faced no significant impact from the storm and the company continues to supply customers, a spokesperson told Argus . Neither Phillips 66's 265,000 b/d Sweeny refinery southwest of Houston nor its 264,000 b/d Lake Charles refinery 140 miles east in Louisiana were affected by the storm, a spokesperson said. There was no damage at Motiva's 626,000 b/d Port Arthur, Texas, refinery according to the company. Marathon Petroleum declined to comment on operations at its 593,000 b/d Galveston Bay refinery. Valero, LyondellBasell, Pemex, Total, Calcasieu and Citgo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on operations at their refineries in the Houston area, Port Arthur and Lake Charles. A roughly eight-mile portion of the Houston Ship Channel from the Sidney Sherman Bridge to Greens Bayou closed from 9pm ET 16 May to 1am ET today when two ships brokeaway from their moorings, and officials looked in a potential fuel oil spill, according to the US Coast Guard. The portion that closed provides access to Valero's 215,000 b/d Houston refinery, LyondellBasell's 264,000 b/d Houston refinery and Chevron's Pasadena refinery. By Nathan Risser Houston area refineries Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Clean hydrogen industry still upbeat but more realistic


17/05/24
News
17/05/24

Clean hydrogen industry still upbeat but more realistic

London, 17 May (Argus) — The clean hydrogen sector still lacks tangible progress and final investment decisions (FIDs) for projects remain far and few between, but it is reaching a moment of reckoning essential for market maturity, delegates at the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam said. When asked whether they were more or less positive than a year ago, industry participants gave diverging answers, but there was widespread agreement that progress on clean hydrogen has been slower than expected. This has been "the year of doldrums", the Dutch port of Rotterdam's hydrogen supply chain programme manager Martijn Coopman said. Increasing material and financing costs, the unstable geopolitical situation and a lack of clarity on regulatory frameworks are just some of the challenges developers have faced. This is a "grim environment if you were expecting the Swiss army knife approach" to work, industry body the Australia Hydrogen Council's chief executive Fiona Simon said, alluding to the — misguided — expectation that hydrogen could be used across all sectors to help decarbonise. "We are coming to terms" on the real use and appropriate applications of hydrogen, Simon said, pointing to green steel production. "We are converging on the same concepts and same policies". The industry has reached the point where the wheat is separated from the chaff and it is becoming a lot clearer which projects will actually materialise.There is now a greater sense of "realism" underpinning discussions according to Dutch gas company Gasunie chief executive Willemien Terpstra. And this is why market participants are more optimistic than a year ago. Demanding as ever Still, delegates widely urged more policy action, especially on the demand side, which has been a recurrent theme. Spurring on demand will be key to get to more FIDs, Spanish utility Iberdrola's hydrogen development director Jorge Palomar Herrero, said. "We can have great intentions and great projects but without the demand, they are not going to happen". Even in Europe, which has pushed ahead with efforts to stimulate demand, these have not been enough to spur offtake, Herrero said. Demand-side incentives alone will likely not be enough and eventually there will have to be consumption obligations too, some said. Incentives may help to reduce project costs and kickstart production, but the amount of "carrots" needed is "phenomenal", so "sticks" will be key, the port of Rotterdam's Coopman said. Consumption mandates could help accelerate momentum in emerging markets and developing countries that have big ambitions for exports to future demand centres, the World Bank's private sector arm IFC energy chief investment officer Ignacio de Calonje said. Governments are now ready to act on these requests, according to industry body the Hydrogen Council's director for policy and partnerships Daria Nochevnik. "The penny has dropped," Nochevnik told Argus , noting that the need for demand-side action was the number one priority outcome of a ministerial-executive roundtable held in Rotterdam this week. Red and blue Governments must also remove red tape to speed things up, conference delegates said. European developers in particular are increasingly frustrated with paperwork involved in funding applications, according to German utility Uniper's vice-president for hydrogen business development Christian Stuckmann. Shortening lengthy permitting and funding processes is also high on governments' lists, Nochevnik noted. Some delegates renewed calls for a wider acceptance of "blue" low-carbon hydrogen made from natural gas with carbon capture and storage to address concerns that, if it is up to renewable hydrogen alone, things will start too late — or not at all. There appeared to be widespread consensus that this low-carbon hydrogen will have a key role to play, especially in a transitional period, as it can already deliver significant emissions reductions. But there is still a "stigma" in Europe, according to industrial gas firm Linde's vice-president for clean energy David Burns. This could hamper its adoption, which many delegates argued the world cannot afford. By Pamela Machado Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Japanese bank Mizuho boosts support for H2, ammonia


17/05/24
News
17/05/24

Japanese bank Mizuho boosts support for H2, ammonia

Tokyo, 17 May (Argus) — Japanese bank Mizuho Financial aims to provide ¥2 trillion ($12.8bn) in financial support for domestic and overseas cleaner fuel projects by 2030 to support Japan's plan to build a hydrogen supply chain. Private-sector Mizuho is offering financing to low-carbon hydrogen, ammonia and e-methane projects related to production, import, distribution and development of hydrogen carriers. Mizuho said it has in the past offered project financing for large-scale overseas low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia manufacturing projects, as well as transition loans. Japan is focusing on cleaner fuel use in the power sector and hard-to-abate industries, as part of its drive to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Japanese firms are getting involved in overseas hydrogen projects because domestic production is bound to be comparatively small and costly. They are looking to co-fire ammonia at coal-fired power generation plants to cut CO2 emissions and examining use of the fuel as a hydrogen carrier . Japanese companies have also partnered with several overseas firms on e-methane. Mizuho has to date offered $1bn for cleaner fuel projects. The bank has set a goal to accelerate the setting up of a clean fuel supply chain by addressing the financial challenge faced by projects requiring large investments. Mizuho has attempted to help Japan's decarbonisation push by tightening biomass and coal financing policies. Mizuho has also stopped investing in new coal-fired power projects, including existing plant expansions. The bank has a plan to reduce the ¥300bn credit available for coal-fired power development projects by half by the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year and to zero by 2040-41. By Nanami Oki Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more