Intel Expands Fuel Cell Use for Eco-Friendly Data Centers

Intel’s data center in Silicon Valley is setting a new standard with the integration of additional solid oxide fuel cell technology through a deal with Bloom Energy. This enhancement is not the first encounter between the two companies; Intel’s facility has been reaping the benefits of Bloom’s fuel cells since 2014. Nonetheless, the expanded collaboration marks a significant increase in capacity, ensuring Intel’s position as the home of the largest fuel cell-powered high-performance computing data center in the region. The decision underscores a clear intention by Intel to push the boundaries of energy efficiency and innovation in its operations.

The successful deployment of these solid oxide fuel cells has helped the Santa Clara Data Center achieve a notable Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06, which is exceptionally close to the ideal rating of 1.0. The data center is equipped with over 400,000 Intel Xeon-powered servers, more than 700 petabytes of storage, and over 800,000 network ports, providing substantial computational resources for a multitude of applications.

Commitment to Efficient Energy Solutions

Intel’s commitment to energy-efficient and sustainable operations reflects a broader awareness of and response to global environmental challenges. The use of Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cells offers not only a greener alternative to traditional power sources but also provides a reliable energy supply that can manage the high energy demands of Intel’s data center operations. This dedication to incorporating innovative solutions fosters resilience and reduces the company’s carbon footprint.

Moreover, the versatility of Bloom’s technology, which can operate on both natural gas and hydrogen, caters to Intel’s vision for a more economically viable and ecologically sound future. Anticipating the shift toward carbon neutrality, Bloom has modified its fuel cells to feature variable load capability to match fluctuating energy demands—ideal for advanced data center operations and the development of utilities and AI technologies.

Intel and Bloom’s Collaboration on Energy Innovation

Expanding the Use of Renewable Technologies

Intel’s quest for sustainability extends to its global operations, as demonstrated by the company’s explorations of fuel cell efficiency in its other data centers, including those in Santa Clara and Bangalore. In a whitepaper published in July 2021, Intel laid out its findings and experiences, providing insights into the technical efficiency and reliability of fuel cell technology for data center power generation. These learnings contribute to Intel’s confidence in scaling up its use of fuel cells with the help of Bloom Energy.

With Bloom’s variable load capability, introduced in February 2024, Intel’s data center can manage power generation in line with dynamic computational demands. Such flexibility is paramount in supporting microgrid development and addressing the needs of data-intensive applications. As Bloom Energy continues to serve major corporations like AWS and Equinix, Intel’s expanded deployment signals a clear trend among industry leaders pursuing renewable and sustainable energy sources to power their critical infrastructures.

A Model for Industry-Wide Change

Intel’s Silicon Valley data center is taking a significant leap in sustainability by increasing their use of Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cell technology, becoming the region’s largest fuel cell-powered computing hub. Since their initial adoption in 2014, Intel continues to demonstrate their focus on cutting-edge energy solutions.

This expansion enables the data center to boast an impressive Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06, edging closer to the perfect score of 1.0. It’s a benchmark for efficiency, showcasing Intel’s commitment to eco-friendly infrastructures within the tech industry.

The Santa Clara facility houses a colossal network, with over 400,000 servers using Intel Xeon processors and staggering amounts of storage and connectivity. This powerhouse supports a plethora of computational tasks, brilliantly merging performance with environmental consciousness. Intel’s relentless drive for innovation is not only evident in their products but also in how they power the future of technology.

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