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Honda Pioneers Clean Energy for Data Centers with Fuel Cell Technology

Aiming to cut hydrogen vehicle costs, Honda tests fuel cells as eco-friendly backup power for North American tech giants
Japan
h 7267.TSE Blue Chip 150
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In a move that suggests Honda may soon be the name in clean energy, the auto manufacturer is expanding into major tech facilities across North America. They’re providing an environmentally friendly alternative to what has long been the only emergency power source for data centers. At the center of the transition is the incorporation of fuel cell technology that Honda is currently piloting at a facility near Los Angeles. This technology marries hydrogen and oxygen in order to produce electricity and water — a production that represents a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The company has repurposed their automotive fuel cell systems to be used with backup generators in data centers — demonstrating an ability to provide data centers with immediate and sustained power during an emergency outage. Their system is connected to the grid at a level of 500 kilowatts through eight separate units and is undergoing rigorous testing to ensure reliability and performance that meet the critical needs of these facilities.

The move comes as a number of factors are combining to increase the demand for data centers. The development of AI is creating a surge in demand for their services, while the digital economy continues its rapid expansion. These buildings are already consuming 2 percent of the world’s electricity, and outside of major metropolitan areas cities aren’t equipped with enough service to meet this growing demand for power. This is all on top of the fact that these buildings are reliant upon diesel-powered generators during power outages. While generators are cost-effective, they’re also big Air-quality offenders; pumping out a pound of greenhouse gas for every gallon of diesel burned, and diesel exhaust has been linked to a thousand deaths per day globally.

But it’s not just about a cleaner alternative — it’s also a critical fit with the carbon neutrality plans of tech behemoths like Amazon and Microsoft. Moreover, Honda is collaborating with General Motors on fuel cell development, so this could help improve the technology’s durability and performance, essential when it may have to deal with conditions anywhere from Louisiana to Sweden.

Honda isn’t just innovating, though. It’s also setting the stage for worldwide distribution. It plans to start selling fuel cell backup generators in 2025, so this isn’t just about the US. It’s a reflection of a broader Honda strategy that would see an electric and fuel cell-only lineup by 2040. The automaker is already learning what it’ll need to make the generators viable worldwide — the technique will have to be both “cost-effective” and convenient if it’s going to compete with diesel generators.
The move is sound regardless of the context, but it’s savvy marketing as well. In one move, Honda shows that it’s at the forefront of sustainable energy for data centers and positions itself as a go-to for tech companies — the corporations most likely to put pressure on the auto industry and offset the damage done by personal vehicles. Honda might not have much convincing to do.

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