Honda is repurposing the hydrogen fuel cells once used in the discontinued Clarity model – the only hydrogen-powered car in the US – and is now using them as backup power for their own LA data centers.
That’s what the car giant told TechCrunch (opens in new tab) that it’s just a “proof of concept” for now, but that it hopes to make it a reality and eventually sell them to other data centers – perhaps those used by colocation or cloud hosting providers.
In the demonstration backup system, the fuel cells came from a Clarity fleet that once belonged to the lease market. Honda no longer uses these types of fuel cells for transportation, but believes they are still effective enough to provide backup power for its server farm, which uses it as cloud storage for storing proprietary data related to car design.
The data center in question once used diesel fuel to power its backup system, a common choice for most data centers. However, switching to hydrogen is not as green as you might think.
Honda told TechCrunch that it is not exclusively using green hydrogen in this test schedule. While the by-product of using hydrogen is just water and heat, sourcing hydrogen in the first place can, in many cases, mean reliance on fossil fuels.
Hydrogen production would need to be significantly increased and supported by suitable infrastructure to deliver fully green hydrogen, which of course takes a lot of effort and money, and explains why car companies are reluctant to adopt the technology.
However, Honda has not yet specified the alternative fuel source. In partnership with General Motors, it has developed a new generation of fuel cells that will power its new car next year, “based on the Honda CR-V.”
These fuel cells will also be used for backup power in more data centers as Honda tries to commercialize them. It also wants them to be all green as well.
In addition to data centers, Honda also wants hydrogen to generate power for other industries. This includes using them for “peak shaving”, using hydrogen generators for electricity use on the grid during peak times when prices are most expensive and capacity is high.
Although all this is still in the concept phase for now, Honda hopes to make it a “new business model” in the future.