Intel has selected Bloom Energy to expand the solid oxide fuel cell technology at its Silicon Valley data center.

The agreement will see Bloom Energy installing additional megawatts of its fuel-cell-based Energy Server deployment at the data center.

Intel HQ, Santa Clara.jpg
Intel HQ in Santa Clara – Sebastian Moss

Intel has an existing Bloom Energy fuel cell installation at the data center site, which was deployed in 2014. With the additional fuel cells, the company says the site will be the largest fuel cell-powered high-performance computing data center in Silicon Valley.

“Intel is leading the industry in extreme energy-efficient high-performance computing data centers with existing hyperscale Intel Santa Clara Data Center operating at 1.06 PUE, enabling the HPC scale needed for complex Intel chip design and technology development,” said Shesha Krishnapura, Intel fellow, and Intel IT CTO. “[The] Intel HPC data center infrastructure currently powers 400,000+ Intel Xeon based servers (5+ million highest clock cores), 700+ petabytes of storage, and 800,000+ network ports."

Bloom's fuel cells can be deployed as a grid parallel system in conjunction with utility power, enabling the data center to operate in a fully separate microgrid when needed.

“Bloom Energy is proud to be a long-term supplier to Intel and to support the company’s data center capacity building at a time when the grid is severely constrained,” said Ravi Prasher, Bloom Energy’s CTO.

“Bloom Energy technology is compatible with hydrogen fuel in addition to natural gas. We are working with governments and industries to adopt hydrogen as a primary fuel when it becomes economically viable."

The Intel data center, developed in the company's former chip manufacturing facility, went live in 2015. DCD went on a tour of the facility in 2019.

In July 2021, Intel published a whitepaper exploring the effectiveness of its proof of concept for fuel cell technology. The company said at the time that it used fuel cells and two of its data centers: Santa Clara, USA, and Bangalore, India.

Bloom Energy added variable load ability to its fuel cells in February 2024, meaning that they can adjust to variable demand and supply in microgrids and utilities.

Bloom says its solid oxide fuel cell power systems are suitable for AI and data center applications, and are currently used by AWS and Equinix, among others,