Rolls-Royce, through its Power Systems business unit, is to develop complete mtu hydrogen fuel cell solutions based on cellcentric’s fuel cell modules that emit nothing other than water vapour. This will enable CO2-free, climate-neutral generation of emergency power for data centers.
Each fuel cell module will in the future deliver a net power output of around 150 kW – sufficient to power approximately 10 homes or 50 washing machines – and can be connected together into scalable fuel cell power plants with outputs in the megawatt range, capable of providing clean backup power for large data centers. Rolls-Royce commissioned a fuel cell demonstrator earlier this year and plans to bring a further demonstrator plant online in 2022, based on modules providing approximately 100 kW each. The first pilot plants with customers will be installed in 2023, with Rolls-Royce launching standard production fuel cell systems in 2025.
Operators of the very large data centers that handle telecommunications and internet traffic are considered a key customer group and the market is growing rapidly. Rolls-Royce is keen to enable energy-intensive data centers to substantially reduce their CO2 footprint by making it possible for them to renounce the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels.
“Electrical generators based on fuel cells represent the next leap forward in the energy transition, both for us and our customers,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “That’s why we’re investing a three-digit million amount in R&D over the next few years and we hope that this strong commitment will encourage governments and politicians to promote and support this pioneering, extremely climate-friendly, technology. When they run on green hydrogen, meaning hydrogen made using renewable energy sources, fuel cells are climate-neutral. For this reason, and also because we’re simply convinced by fuel cell technology, we also want to look into how green hydrogen can be produced cost-effectively in the quantities we need.”