Capacity growth has become a constant challenge for the data center industry. Despite the massive investments in new capacity that have been made over the last five years, more capacity is required to support the continued digitalization of business and society. The Dell'Oro Group projects investments in hyperscale data centers to double in the next five years.

That growth threatens to drive up the greenhouse gas emissions that can be attributed to data centers. Despite the efficiency of today’s facilities, they are inherently energy intensive. The International Energy Agency estimates that data centers consumed between 200 and 250 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy in 2020. Much of that electricity is generated from carbon-based fuels, which contribute to Scope 2 emissions for data center operators.

This white paper examines recent advances in fuel cell technology that have improved performance and reduced costs such as hydrogen-powered fuel cells that are emerging as a solution to displace diesel generators for backup power. It also addresses why fuel cells represent a promising solution for zero-carbon primary data center power in the longer term.