For our digital daily life, both professionally and privately, large amounts of electricity are required, producing CO2 and significantly affecting the climate. One hour of streaming on Netflix requires enough energy to drive a car seven kilometers through the city. The study by Bitcom from 2020 results in 200 to 250 megatons equivalent of CO2 being allocated to data centers and communication networks around the world. It has no end: if Digitization If this continues, data centers will account for up to one-fifth of global power consumption by 2025. In Germany, there are already more than 55,000 data centers and 13 billion kilowatt hours per year. That is in line with the total annual electricity demand of a large city like Berlin. Therefore, green data centers should contribute to eco-friendly heart energy consumption in digitization.
Use the resulting waste heat wisely
In addition to renewable energy, the use of waste heat from data centers leads to greater sustainability. This is because the servers must be hot and constantly cool while the data center is running. It generates heat and is almost never used. However, this heat is also used to heat nearby office buildings, apartments or greenhouses. In Sweden, this method is already used in about 30 data centers, which supply waste heat to the Stockholm district heating network. In comparison, Germany is still lagging behind.
Looking for neighbors who need constant heat
The reason for this is location planning on the one hand. This is because a data center is permanently active, thus avoiding heat throughout the year. Therefore, as neighbors, facilities that need to be heated permanently, not only in winter. This could be agricultural projects such as swimming pools, laundries or urban farming. However, in order for this effective location planning to work, cities and municipalities need to pay attention to permits at an early stage and promote district planning. In addition, the temperature of the waste heat of 30 C is sometimes not sufficient for heating. The solution is to use heat pumps in the data center itself or in a nearby office or residential building called low temperature heating.
Create benefits to promote eco-friendly development
Second, Germany has high electricity prices, of which the Renewable Energy Source Act (EEG) levied by the same name plays a major role. It is conceivable that data centers that use waste heat would be exempted from this surcharge. This is because these data centers meet the EEG goal of promoting eco-friendly cardiology. In Scandinavia, too, it is different: lower electricity prices, lower cooling costs, and in some cases, tax avoidance points with data center operators, creating incentives to turn waste heat into a business model. At the international level, the European Commission also wants to promote climate protection in data centers. In his strategy paper “The Digital Future of Shopping Europe”, they have drawn up a roadmap for climate neutralization of data centers by 2030. A minimum of 100 100 billion is required for the master plan.
Community work is required at all levels
In a context where digitization is advancing and the cry for sustainability is becoming more and more urgent, all levels demand: Politicians should create incentives, municipalities should create framework conditions, data center operators and waste heat users should pay attention to technical requirements. Users can enjoy their evening series with a clear green conscience only when everyone is together.
Author: Andreas Ahrens
Andreas Ahrens has been with Dries & Somer since 2011. It is primarily responsible for project management of IT projects, especially data centers, in the Dസെsseldorf area. In addition to project management, his specialist focus is on the holistic overall concept of data centers or real estate with high requirements in terms of feasibility, learning, security and availability. Ahrnes studied construction management at the University of Applied Sciences in Oldenburg and construction management at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland until 2006. He has worked as a civil engineer and project manager for many years as a trained draftsman. .
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