Data centres urged to adopt renewable energy to avoid disruption


Following industry insight that data centres must adopt renewable energy sources to avoid the disruption of impending sustainability regulations, sector experts are calling attention to the potential for greener fuels in decarbonising data centre backup power.

The Uptime Institute’s recent report – ‘Renewable Energy for Data Centers– highlights how wider industry developments mean data centre operators must start investing in renewable energy products. Yet at present, the vast majority of European data centres house diesel gensets on site for their backup power.

The report also indicates that, while emissions reporting is currently voluntary, the introduction of mandatory international reporting standards is being discussed. In preparation for this change, Aggreko is warning data centre operators to consider updating their operations with sustainable fuels.

Billy Durie, global sector head for data centres at Aggreko, said: “The European data centre market has made significant strides in recent years in its efforts to adopt greener practices. Developments such as free cooling systems are allowing facilities to curb their carbon emissions even while the sector continues to enjoy growth.

“However, with the potential for mandatory emissions reporting on the horizon, compliance may force organisations into a major upheaval of their operations. In light of this, data centres should consider pre-emptively adopting renewable energy sources to avoid disruption and supply-chain bottlenecks.”

Hydrogen fuel cells and battery storage technology have been touted as sources of emission-free backup power. Yet, with the rollout of these technologies still underway, operators are being advised to look for immediate steps to improve facility sustainability.

According to Durie, hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) has the potential to fill the gap. A greener substitute for diesel, HVO can facilitate up to a 90 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a 15 to 25 percent reduction in nitrous oxides and particulate matter.

Durie concluded: “While there is much potential for hydrogen fuel cells and battery storage to remedy this challenge, action must be taken to make small switches that will make a big difference now. The disruption caused by delaying change, alongside the CapEx to purchase new equipment, mean stakeholders should look towards more affordable and easier avenues to reducing emissions.

“Most diesel gensets currently in use can be easily configured to run on HVO, making it the most accessible solution right now to reducing emissions. By integrating HVO into backup power procedures alongside the ongoing green developments of day-to-day operation, the data centre sector can ensure an all-encompassing approach that will help it achieve its ambitious climate targets while avoiding costly disruption.”

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