How Bloom Energy Fuel Cells Support India’s Data Center Growth
There’s almost not a corner of the world that doesn’t connect to a data center in some way, feeding an incessant demand for information on every facet of life. Data centers have abundant plans to grow, yet in country after country, they are running up against the same obstacle: They can’t get the power they need and, more pointedly, they can’t get the power fast enough. And if they want that power to be clean, it’s an even bigger mountain to climb. That’s why one of India’s leading data center operators turned to Bloom Energy fuel cells last fall.
Nxtra by Airtel is the data center subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, India’s leading telecom company. It has 12 large and 120 edge data centers across India and has pledged to expand its capacity by 2X to over 400 MW in the next few years. It also has pledged to do so with clean energy.
In installing 500kW of Bloom fuel cells at a site in Bengaluru, Nxtra is meeting both its clean power and time to power needs. The Bloom Energy Server®, as our solid oxide fuel cells are known, creates electricity from a wide variety of fuels without combustion, which means no particulate pollution. Nxtra’s installation currently runs on natural gas, but the company hopes to switch to hydrogen as soon as commercial quantities of the clean fuel is available. As for speed, the deal was inked in September 2022, and the fuel cells were installed and providing power in December.
“As Nxtra continues to play a leading role in India’s emergence as hub of data center industry in the Asia-Pacific region, we continue to be deeply committed to set new benchmarks in sustainability for the data center industry,” said Rajesh Tapadia, chief operating officer of Nxtra. “We embarked on our sustainability journey with an ambition to reach net zero by 2031 and have adopted strategic efforts to adopt innovative energy solutions. Our partnership with Bloom Energy is in line with this commitment and aims to fulfil our future-ready energy strategy to supply more cleaner energy to our data centers.”
The Nxtra installation marks a significant step forward in India for Bloom, which was founded by an Indian immigrant to America, KR Sridhar. His work for NASA on life support systems for Mars missions became the foundation of a company that now makes the future-proof fuel cells installed in India, and the Bloom Electrolyzer™ that produces hydrogen with the greatest efficiency of any electrolyzer technology now on the market. Bloom maintains support operations in India, including a center that monitors the performance of its fuel cells around the world in real time. This also includes the Nxtra data center in Bengaluru.
Where will the future take us? Hopefully towards more greener data centers, in India and beyond. Regions like Asia and Africa are increasingly building data center capabilities but these regions face power growth challenges. This is where Bloom technology can step in and help data centers to meet their power needs sustainably.