Havering Data Centre Hydrogen Campus

With data centres facing tremendous growth in data demand whilst new grid power connections are very difficult to come by, the industry must get creative.


Data centres account for 3% to 5% of world electricity demand and this could reach double figures by 2030 without strong intervention.  Whilst energy-saving liquid cooling technologies are finally starting to be taken seriously to unlock stranded data hall capacity, renewable power sources are also likely to be part of the overall solution.


Havering Data Centre

The developers of the proposed, massive 600MW 175-acre Havering data centre campus in east London (on greenfield land, by the way) are considering a hydrogen fuel cell plant to address their energy needs.  Companies like Bosch are having similar thoughts, with a team working to develop commercial fuel cell solutions to bring to the data centre market in the second half of this decade.


Planning permission for the Havering campus has not been granted, to date.  Of course, using grey hydrogen sourced from oil and gas wouldn’t be a good thing for data centre power.  Hydrogen in the commercial quantities required for data centre campuses would likely need pipelines connecting them to a nearby industrial hydrogen production hub and these would more likely transport blue hydrogen (reformed from oil and gas, but with carbon capture and storage) rather than green, renewable hydrogen in the near-term.


The Havering campus developers haven’t explained where the hydrogen needed to run their fuel cells would come from.  Technologies for on-site generation of renewable hydrogen are generally still in the lab/ start-up phase.   Projects like Gigastack, a plan to use offshore North Sea wind power to manufacture large-scale hydrogen production, are still in the development phase.  Green hydrogen costs/kg need to be competitive.  It was interesting to see that the winning bids from hydrogen providers at the 30 April auction by the European Hydrogen Bank all asked for subsidies of less than €0.5/kg, but green hydrogen production costs are still well above the $1/kg that is so often quoted as a long-term target for competitiveness.


Do you think that data centre operators are sufficiently serious about adopting renewable energy sources at pace, or do you think that the industry is paying more attention to overcoming planning objections?


At NovAzure, we’re working a range of data centre industry players across the value chain to commercialise innovations to significantly improve data centre efficiency and deliver a Net Zero transition.



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