The energy use of data centres is increasing as the data storage needs increase. One of the largest items in the energy use of these facilities is cooling. A fuel cell-based combined cooling, heating and power system can efficiently meet such a centre's need for cooling and in the meantime generate enough electricity for the centre and more. In this paper the economic feasibility of a fuel cell-based combined cooling, heating and power system that meets the energy demands of such a facility is investigated using operational data from an existing data centre in Stockholm, Sweden. The results show that although the system is not feasible with current energy prices and technology it may be feasible in the future with the projected changes in energy prices.
QC 20160111. QC 20160304
It is evident that human activity has an important impact on climate. Constantly increasing energy demand is one of the biggest causes of climate change. The fifth assessment report of the Inter-governmental panel on climate change states that decarbonisation of electricity generation is a key component of climate change mitigation. Increased awareness of this fact and escalating concerns around energy security has brought public attention to the energy industry, especially sustainable power generation systems.
Future energy systems may need to include hydrogen as an energy carrier in order to achieve necessary levels of CO2 emission reductions, and overcome the challenges renewable energy systems present. Fuel cells could be a corner stone of future hydrogen inclusive energy solutions.
New solutions like fuel cells have to compete with existing technologies and overcome the shortcomings of emerging technology. Though these shortcomings are well-recognised, fuel cells also have many advantages which makes continued research and development in the field highly worthwhile and viable. Key to their adoption is the identification of a niche market to utilise their advantages while overcoming their shortcomings with continuous research and development.
This thesis aims to evaluate some of the stationary fuel cell applications and determine whether one could become the niche market as an entry point for fuel cells. This is achieved by economic evaluations of real and hypothetical applications.
Results of the studies here imply that to decrease the total life cycle impacts of fuel cells to more acceptable levels, resource use in the manufacturing phase and recycling in decommissioning should be shown more attention. Results also present a picture showing that none of the applications investigated are economically feasible, given the current state of technology and energy prices. However, fuel cell-based combined cooling, heating and power systems for data centres show the potential to become the niche market that fuel cells need to grow. A further conclusion is that a broad market, longer stack lifetime, the possibility of selling electricity back to the grid and governmental subsidies are essential components of an environment in which fuel cells can permeate through the niche market to the mainstream markets.