Microsoft, Siemens team up on power monitoring for fuel cell data center

Siemens Energy Management has partnered with Microsoft and FuelCell Energy to design, engineer and install equipment and software, including a power monitoring solution, for the nation’s first zero-carbon, waste-to-energy data center in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The project uses biogas methane produced by common waste byproducts at the nearby Dry Creek wastewater facility to power the fuel cell system. The fuel cell system then converts the biogas into electricity to power the Microsoft data center.

Siemens engineered and installed intelligent controls, power monitoring hardware and energy management software that is helping to power a zero-carbon data center that will be entirely independent from the power grid.

The system measures the overall performance and energy output of the fuel cell to ensure consistent, high-quality power is delivered to operate Microsoft’s data center 24-7. By using Siemens’ technology, renewable resources like biogas and technologies such as fuel cells can be a source of reliable energy for full-scale power projects.

Microsoft and FuelCell Energy came to Siemens with specific parameters for the project, and based on this data, Siemens engineered the power monitoring technology to provide detailed insight into the power generation process so the biogas and fuel cell concept could be shown to produce reliable energy and move the project from pilot to full-scale.

The Siemens software and hardware monitors the amount of biogas being sent to the fuel cell, the conversion to usable energy, and the fuel cell output to ensure that enough electricity is created throughout this process to reliably power Microsoft’s datacenter.

The technology also includes predictive demand alert capability so the data center operators are made immediately aware of any power quality or energy demand issues.

The Microsoft data center will operate completely off the grid and, based on measurements from Siemens’ power monitoring system, is expected to produce 250 kW of renewable power and use about 100 kW. The additional power will be sent back to the wastewater treatment facility to reduce its electric bills.

As part of the integrated solution, Siemens also provided environmental controls for this project inside the datacenter to manage air temperature, flow, and humidity. Siemens also provided circuit breakers that deliver energy to the servers and protect power supply in cases of low or high energy levels within the container.

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