Microsoft Opens ‘Off-Grid’ Data Center

November 7, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

MicrosoftMicrosoft dedicated its new zero-carbon, waste-to-energy-powered data center in Cheyenne, Wyo. Microsoft worked with Siemens Energy Management and FuelCell Energy on the data center that will operate completely off the grid.

The data center uses biogas methane produced by common waste byproducts at the nearby Dry Creek wastewater facility. Anaerobic bacteria produce the biogas, which powers a fuel cell system. The fuel cell system then electrochemically converts the biogas into electricity to power the Microsoft data center.

The fuel cell plant is expected to produce 250 kW of renewable power while the data center will only use about 100 kW. The remaining kilowatts will be delivered back to the wastewater treatment plant to reduce its electric bills.

FuelCell Energy of Connecticut developed the fuel cell technology in which virtually no air pollutants are released because of the absence of combustion.

Siemens engineered and installed power monitoring hardware and energy management software at the data center to monitor 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 the data center 24-7.

The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board approved a $1.5 million Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Community grant request from the city of Cheyenne in 2012 to help fund the $7.6 million plant. Microsoft covered the remaining cost.

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