Fujitsu Computer Products of America Inc. has plugged in a new hydrogen stationary fuel cell generator to supply some of the power to its offices in California, at the same time demonstrating how energy efficiency can be cost effective and of real benefit to the big corporations.

As well as showcasing innovative technologies in its own facilities and contributing to the climate change cause, Fujitsu will be enhancing its own company profile and reducing its escalating energy costs.

Data centres across the US consumed around 61bn kWh in 2006, roughly 1.5 percent of the total US electricity consumption, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency and server sprawl, rising energy costs and global climate change concerns have made the finance departments at many businesses point the finger of blame at energy-wasting IT departments.

Fujitsu's hydrogen fuel cell generator was inaugurated on 17th August and is fueled by natural gas and, while this generates CO2, captures waste heat, using it to heat the building's water and air.

Tetsuo Urano, head of American operations at Fujitsu America, said of the switch, $quot;With a payback of about 3 ½ years and a lifespan of about 15 years, hydrogen power is an excellent investment for the company. All of us at Fujitsu have a deep commitment to environmental responsibility, and we a re proud of the leadership we've shown over the years, fro reducing our carbon footprint, to broad recycling and reuse programs. We will continue to invest in innovation and programs that are both good for the environment and good for our business.$quot;

Through the installation, Fujitsu qualifies for a $500,000 rebate on the capital cost of its generator from Northern California utility server, Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E). Such eco-efficient projects often tend to still require rebates to be funded in the first place. According to Homer Purcell, vice president of sales for UTC Power, the company which built the generator, a typical hydrogen fuel cell generator may cost $90,000 plus $250,000 for installation and financial incentives to offset that outlay may be critical to such projects.

David Rubin, a director of PG&E, estimated there are around 20 other hydrogen fuel cell generator projects in development and highlighted the benefits as he commented, $quot;Fuel cells are an area of growing interest. If you install it in a way that you can use the waste heat generated, you're backing off your use of natural gas (from PG&E) to heat water or the air.$quot;