Energy crisis threatens net zero goals for most UK & Irish data centres

A recent survey by Schneider Electric reveals that the energy crisis is causing significant concerns among business leaders in UK and Irish data centres. An overwhelming 81% of respondents believe that the energy crisis will have a notable impact on their organizations’ ability to achieve emissions reduction goals. Of this group, nearly half (49%) are postponing planned investments in sustainability and net-zero initiatives due to these challenges.

Furthermore, 40% of organisations cite immediate business challenges stemming from the energy crisis, while 43% indicate that emission reduction targets are no longer a primary concern for their stakeholders. A noteworthy 22% of surveyed firms find it challenging to take practical actions to meet these targets. Despite these challenges, 32% of data centre business leaders anticipate that climate change and net-zero ambitions will gain greater priority over the next three years, contrasting with a mere 11% who believe that national net-zero commitments will diminish during this period.

Mark Yeeles, Vice President of the Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric UK and Ireland, emphasises that data centres are grappling with the energy crisis amid numerous other challenges, including economic pressures, cybersecurity, and skills shortages. Yeeles underscores the urgency for data centres to adhere to their net-zero and emissions reduction targets as concerns mount about global commitments made under the Paris Agreement and warnings from the UK’s Climate Change Committee regarding a lack of progress in emissions reduction.

The survey also highlights insights from data centre managers, with 32% expecting energy prices to decline over the next three years. However, a substantial majority (71%) believe that their organisations will continue to address the energy crisis in the coming year.

In conclusion, Yeeles urges data centres to re-engage with their emissions reduction ambitions, emphasising that technology solutions for decarbonisation are readily available and offer attractive returns on investment, with payback periods measured in months rather than years. Investing in green skills and jobs is also encouraged as a means of building a diverse and sustainable workforce.

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