Honda has begun operation of a stationary fuel cell power station on its US corporate campus in Torrance, California, marking the company’s first step towards future commercialization of zero emission backup power generation.

The initiative leverages the automaker’s hydrogen fuel cell technology expertise and contributes to the company’s global goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Now fully operational as a demonstration programme, the fuel cell power station supplies emergency backup power to the campus data centre. Honda will later begin using next generation stationary fuel cell systems at its factories and data centres worldwide.

The demonstration stationary fuel cell unit has a capacity of approximately 500 kW and reuses the fuel cell systems of previously leased Clarity Fuel Cell vehicles. Layout of the fuel cell units can be changed to suit the installation environment and to accommodate cubic, L-shaped, Z-shaped, and other packaging configurations.

Future stationary FC units will use Honda’s next generation FC system jointly developed with General Motors and also set to power a new FCEV based on the Honda CR-V coming in 2024.

Over the last few years, the power requirements of data centres have been growing rapidly due to the expansion of cloud computing and big data utilisation, and the need for backup power sources has been increasing from the perspective of business continuity planning (BCP). The Torrance fuel cell station also serves as a proof of concept for future commercialisation of the power generation unit.

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“We believe there’s great promise in hydrogen fuel cells for backup power and offsetting potential peak power events,” said Koji Moriyama, project lead of the stationary fuel cell and principal engineer with American Honda R&D Business Unit.

Honda recently announced it would proceed with business development of fuel cells in commercial vehicles and construction equipment.