Fuel Cells or Reciprocating Engines… why not both?

Close-up of wires to a data center

| On Land.

In a data center, combining fuel cells and reciprocating engines can create a more reliable and efficient power generation system. This hybrid approach is often used to take advantage of the strengths of both technologies while mitigating their weaknesses.
Primary Power: Fuel Cells

Fuel cells offer high energy efficiency and low emissions, making them an excellent choice for continuous, eco-friendly power generation. Fuel cells can provide a stable baseline of power to meet the data center’s everyday electrical needs.

Backup Support: Reciprocating Engines

Reciprocating engines, such as our medium-speed natural gas generators, can be used as backup power sources. They are known for their quick start-up times and can rapidly provide power in the event of grid outages or during periods of high demand. These engines can automatically kick in when the primary power source experiences a failure.

Load Balancing and Redundancy

The combination of fuel cells with reciprocating engines offers load balancing and redundancy. During periods of peak demand or when the primary fuel cells need maintenance, the reciprocating engines can supplement the power supply. Conversely, when the grid power is unreliable or during an outage, the fuel cells can continue to provide power with the reciprocating engines support.

Energy Storage Integration

To enhance system flexibility and reliability, energy storage systems like batteries can be integrated in to the hybrid setup. Batteries can store excess power generated by the fuel cells during low-demand periods and discharge it during peak demand or outages, reducing the load on the reciprocating engines. Bergen Engines are known for their high efficiency and low emissions in varying loads, and can be operated on low load levels for extended periods of time.

The benefits of a hybrid approach with fuel cells and reciprocating engines in a data center:

  1. Reliability: The combination of fuel cells and reciprocating engines ensures a reliable power supply with minimal downtime, as each technology compensates for the other’s weaknesses.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Fuel cells provide high energy efficiency for continuous power, while reciprocating engines offer quick response times during sudden load spikes or outages.
  3. Reduced Emissions: The use of fuel cells as the primary power source helps maintain low emissions, which is essential for data centers seeking to reduce their environmental footprint.
  4. Cost Savings: By using reciprocating engines as backup power sources, data centers can avoid the need for large, redundant fuel cell systems, potentially reducing capital and operating costs.

By combining fuel cells and reciprocating engines in a data center and carefully managing their operation, data center operators can achieve a balance of energy efficiency, reliability, and environmental sustainability while meeting the power demands of their facilities.

About Bergen Engines
Bergen Engines produces medium-speed liquid and gas fueled engines and generator sets to a broad range of land-based, commercial marine, and naval applications. The Bergen name is a watchword for quality and reliability in its field.
The tradition of engineering in Bergen, Norway, dates to 1855 when the original company Bergen Mekaniske Verksted (BMV) was founded. In 1946, the company built its first diesel engine and has since commissioned over 7,500 of its iconic liquid and gas fueled engines. Around half of them are still in operation today; such is the quality and reliability of a Bergen engine.
From 1999, Bergen Engines AS was owned by the British aerospace and defense group, Rolls-Royce plc. On 31st December 2021, the company was acquired from Rolls-Royce by the family-owned engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings plc, and is now part of the Power Solutions division.

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