First fully-green, hydrogen-powered, off-grid data centre-as-a-service

2 mins read

ECL, a Data Centre-as-a-Service provider, has announced the world’s first modular, sustainable, off-grid data centre that uses green hydrogen as its primary power source.

ECL said that it is able to deliver data centres in 1MW blocks with 99.9999 percent uptime. At the same time, it also announced $7m in seed financing co-led by Molex Ventures and Hyperwise Ventures.

Lily Yeung, Vice President at Molex Ventures and Nathan Shuchami, Managing Partner at Hyperwise Ventures are set to join ECL Founder and CEO Yuval Bachar as members of the ECL board of directors. The funds will be used by ECL to expand its market presence and in building its first data centre at the company’s Mountain View headquarters, with completion scheduled for Q2 2023.

Optimised for use by mid-sized data centre operators – typically large companies with a mix of cloud and on-premises IT environments – ECL’s Datacentre-as-a-Service is said to be two-thirds the total cost of ownership (TCO) of traditional colocation data centre providers when measured over five years.

The community-integrated data centre has been designed to consume no local resources, including power or water, and operates with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels. ECL’s modularity and its lack of dependence on local utilities also means that these data centres can be designed and delivered much faster, reducing planning and construction cycles from between 18 to 24 months to between six and nine months. 

“It’s exciting to see ECL investing to bring tremendously relevant and novel experience into this high growth space around customisable modular data centres that can support the growing demand for advanced and flexible computational needs and sustainable power use,” said Lily Yeung, VP of Molex Ventures.

While it’s true that other data centre providers have deployed hydrogen fuel cells as backup power supplies, with some conducting trials of systems forecast for production delivery in three-to-five years, ECL is the first to deliver a fully green hydrogen-powered data centre.

This has been enabled by bringing together several disruptive technologies including green hydrogen-based power generation, battery energy storage and highly reliable power architecture without dependence on the utility grid.

ECL cooling innovations enable much higher density-per-rack than traditional data centre providers, a strong benefit given the increasing per-server power consumption driven by accelerating chip and system density.

Water created as a by-product of hydrogen-based power generation is used to cool ECL’s server racks, eliminating the need for external water sources. Combining this with proprietary rear door heat exchange technology results in lower Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratios than any other colocation data centre provider.

With PUE of 1 representing optimal efficiency, traditional colocation providers average approximately 1.57 across all their data centres with the best-of-class able to achieve approximately 1.2 with an average of eight kilowatts of power per rack. ECL will achieve PUE of 1.05 across all of its data centres, with up to 50 kilowatts per rack. By achieving lower PUE ratios and higher rack densities, ECL’s customers will benefit from significantly lower cost of real estate, space and power consumption.

ECL data centres also feature an advanced full data centre management system – ECL Lightning – which monitors and controls every aspect of the ECL data centre, from power generation to power delivery and rack cooling, in real time. An intuitive UI provides comprehensive, clear and simple monitoring, which enables finite control of all aspects of operating the data centre.

In addition, when no fibre is present at a selected site, an ECL partner provides a fibre backbone along with cloud interconnection via its network-as-a-service platform, while ECL provides last-mile access using the customer’s provider of choice.

This flexibility in network provisioning, coupled with ECL’s green hydrogen-based primary power, means that data centre locations no longer need to be driven by network or power grid availability.

“The innovations set a new bar for flexibility and sustainability in the global data centre industry,” said Yuval Bachar, Founder and CEO of ECL. “Never before has hydrogen been harnessed for use as the primary power source for the data centre and that, combined with the unmatched efficiency of our cooling system and our emissions-free operations, is unique in the world today.”