Building a better future: starting now
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With carbon footprint reduction programmes picking up the pace across all industries and a spotlight on sustainability, it is perhaps unsurprising that the consumption of electricity by data centres has been thrown into sharp relief.
Progress and growth, however, come at a cost. The development of new data centre infrastructure and the demand load that they require have been criticised for negatively impacting both the current and future electrical system as well as risking the success of plans to reach carbon neutrality. Whilst the economic benefits of data centres are widely recognised, by using a disproportionate amount of electricity generation capacity they have the potential to present serious risks to the sustainability and security of the wider power system of entire nations.
A case in point, as reported by Data Centre Dynamics, July 2021, the Irish grid – EirGrid – has agreements in place for 1800MW of new data centres, with up to 2000MW of additional requests received – compared to a total peak demand in Ireland for 5500MW. The grid operator has said that data centres are a key driver for increased electricity use and has warned that if no action is taken, the country could face “rolling blackouts”.
Two years since the announcement of the 2019 Amsterdam moratorium on new data centres – and being the first government to announce such a move - a more sustainable approach to data centre creation is now a certainty. So much so, that the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact – part of the European Green Deal – stipulates that data centres must be climate neutral in 2030.
With demand increasing at an unprecedented rate, combined with an unparalleled need to create greener, cleaner infrastructure, how can data centres – old and new - more effectively manage the energy transition and harness the power of the latest advances in technology to build a more sustainable future?