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Fuel Cells Green ICT Infrastructures Worldwide

Fuel cells, including those powered by biogas, are a growing part of sustainable ICT infrastructures.

We have been tracking the adoption of the Bloom Energy Server for ICT over the past three years. We've noted Bharti Infratel's use of fuel cells to replace diesel generators at off-grid telecom sites India. Here are more products and deployments; the most recent post is about Nokia's fuel cell technology.

A 2011 report prepared for the US Department of Defense (DoD) by LMI notes the promise of fuel cells for ICT: "Secure and reliable energy is most critical at mission-sensitive and high-risk installations…Command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and strategic deterrence missions are contributing to increased tactical and strategic criticality of many installations…Fuel cell systems for distributed stationary power production could help achieve multiple benefits for DoD. Among them are…reduced system-wide and point source emissions of pollutants, including GHGs."

Like many organizations, the DoD wrestles with externality accounting and stakeholder relations: "Among the institutional deterrents to new energy technology…is that prices paid by energy customers, including DoD, do not reflect the true value of public benefits. Such benefits are those that would be realized by, for example…lowering GHG emissions…At issue is whether DoD…will receive additional resources based on valuations of these public benefits. Such appropriations could be used for acquiring technologies, such as fuel cells, that enable achievement of mandated energy goals and targets."

Voice & Data reports,"Nokia Siemens Networks' Fuel Cell [has] won the emerging technologies award under green telecom and smart energy CTIA wireless 2013...Developed jointly by Nokia Siemens Networks and Ballard Power Systems, Fuel cells enable operators to optimize network downtime in case of a commercial power breakdown. Based on a methanol-water mix, they have a considerably lower carbon footprint in comparison with traditional alternatives. Fuel Cells offer an environment-friendly and power-conscious alternative to ensure network continuity during power blackouts." Nokia announced a few months later that it was acquiring Siemans' share of the the NSN joint venture.

IdaTech is a company whose fuel cells can consume a mix of bio-methanol and de-ionized water. T-Moblie is using the IdaTech fuel cells in California, which has significant incentives for bio-fuel use.

The company's products are also used at off-grid telecom sites. IdaTech reported March, "…more than 150 IdaTech backup power fuel cell systems have been installed on Hutchison Indonesia’s network instead of traditional diesel generators."

We'll update this post as we find additional examples of fuel cell technology contributing to more sustainable ICT.