Digital Realty and Schneider Electric to undertake data centre circular economy initiative

Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, has partnered with Digital Realty, the largest global provider of cloud and carrier-neutral data center, colocation and interconnection solutions, to deliver an innovative circular economy initiative at its PAR6 data center in Paris. 

The project aims to prolong and maintain the life of the mission-critical systems at PAR6, including its Schneider Electric Low Voltage (LV) and Medium-Voltage (MV) electrical equipment, switchgear and three-phase uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), in line with Digital Realty’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments. 

This includes the ability to reuse key pieces of its electrical infrastructure and components, while initiating new take-back, recycle and refurbish programs to help reduce the company’s e-waste, its Scope 3 emissions, and removing high impact greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as SF6. Additionally, this innovative initiative, which includes a plan to undertake an industry-first battery rejuvenation assessment to extend the lifecycle of its VRLA UPS batteries will adhere to circular economy principles. The ambition is to create a roadmap that enables Digital Realty to replicate, deploy and scale-up its circularity initiatives across its sites in Europe. 

Over the next 3-5 years, the circularity project is expected to help Digital Realty save and avoid 50%-70% of the embodied carbon within its LV, MV and three-phase UPS equipment, while prolonging equipment lifecycles and enabling Digital Realty to improve its environmental impact.

“We are constantly adapting our strategy and operations to meet the challenges of sustainable development: the circularity of equipment, in this case electrical equipment, is one of the major levers for decarbonizing our activities and our value chain. This is where our collaboration with Schneider Electric, a partner of over 20 years, really comes into its own,” said Fabrice Coquio, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Digital Realty in France. “Being a good global citizen isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good business sense, and as we move forwards, our ambition is to help customers meet and exceed their environmental goals by leveraging our services.” 

The partners of the future

In late 2022, Digital Realty approached Schneider Electric’s Secure Power, Sustainability and Circular Economy divisions, commissioning them to undertake a new circularity consulting study which would detail a series of sustainability recommendations and improvements at its PAR5 data center, the site which was originally identified for the first phase of testing and analysis. 

Beginning with its electrical distribution and UPS systems, Schneider Electric undertook a detailed analysis of Digital Realty’s PAR5 infrastructure, compiling baseline data and exploring new ideas that would accelerate its decarbonization commitments. Following the analysis, Schneider Electric applied each of the different use cases to key circular economy principles including maintain, reuse, refurbish and recycle programs, and provided Digital Realty with a new and improved circularity strategy, which calculated the anticipated business and environmental benefits – including a reduction in costs, carbon emissions, F-gases, and e-waste. 

The strategy also detailed a four-step deployment approach which would digitize, prolong, refurbish, and reuse its mission-critical equipment with the help of local partners, and included the take-back, replacement and responsible disposal of its physical infrastructure assets. This approach allows Digital Realty to modernize and reuse parts of its three-phase UPS, while undertaking progressive upgrades, condition-based maintenance, and digitization as part of its EcoStruxure Service Plan

In its first few months, the circularity project has delivered 3.7 tons of CO2 savings from modernization, refurbishments, and replacements to its UPS equipment. Further emissions savings are also expected through deployment of Schneider Electric’s SM AirSeT, SF6-free MV switchgear, which uses established air and vacuum technology to provide data center operators with increased sustainability, efficiency, and enhanced electrical safety. 

“With European data center growth reaching a record high, driven by the adoption of AI, it’s imperative that operators across the region explore and innovate their approaches to sustainability,” said Marc Garner, Senior Vice President, Secure Power division, Schneider Electric, Europe. “As we look to the future and digital demands proliferate, its vital that technological advancement moves hand-in-hand with circular economy principles – ensuring we build the data centers of the future responsibly for the next generation.”

Partner Resources

Popular Right Now

Edgecore Insight Podcast

Ep-1: Navigating the Waters of Sustainability

Others have also read ...