This prototype proton exchange membrane, or PEM, fuel cell system can provide emissions-free backup power to about 10,000 data center servers. | Image: Microsoft / John Brecher

Microsoft has reached a new milestone in its effort to ditch diesel in favor of cleaner energy at its data centers. The company announced today that it successfully tested a hydrogen fuel cell system powerful enough to replace a traditional diesel-powered backup generator at a large data center.

As part of its plans to tackle climate change, Microsoft wants to completely quit using diesel as fuel for its backup power systems by 2030. To keep data centers running 24/7, regardless of power outages, each center is equipped with batteries that temporarily kick in until backup generators are fired up.

For now, those generators run on diesel, releasing air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen fuel cells, in contrast, combine…

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