Data Centres //
CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2030
Data centres underpin all of the digital transactions that we carry out. These facilities that can range from a small cell tower base-station to a large enormous cloud data centre are largely unknown to the public.
It is estimated that there are 450 large very large cloud data centres in operation and over 150 under construction right now. Then there is a vast number of smaller data centres are in enterprises and to provide processing for 5G, IoT, AI and self-driving vehicles.
Data centres use a great deal of electricity, from the Climate Change Agreement for Data Centres and industry estimates it is thought that data centres in the UK use about 42.11TWh, which is around 12.13% of the total electricity generation in the UK. Globally, the estimated figure is around 1% of total electricity generation being used for data centres, but this is likely to rise significantly due to the growth of cloud computing to between 4% and 20%.
Regulators are progressing with the EC making a very clear statement to all data centre and telecommunications operators in February 2020: “Data Centres can and should be carbon neutral by 2030.”
To be considered carbon neutral, a data centre is going to have to collaborate with its near neighbours as part of the smart city of the future and provide energy flexibility, reuse its waste heat and become more energy smart. There are already demonstrators that all of this is possible with facilities already connected to district heating schemes in the Nordics and Energy flexibility by schemes which provide grid balancing services.
Heat pumps are a key part of making this happen, by taking the low grade rejected heat from the data centre and improving its quality for use in heating services. Thereby increasing the efficiency of the whole system both in carbon and in financial terms. But, for these to work, organisations need to become more innovative and collaborative.