Volkswagen AG to make data centres climate-neutral by 2027

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Volkswagen AG has announced its goal of making its data centre operations net carbon-neutral by 2027. To achieve this goal, the Group has expanded its computing capacities at Green Mountain, a Norwegian operator of CO2-neutral data centres.

With this expansion, one quarter of Volkswagen’s global data centre operations will run carbon-neutrally. This corresponds to annual CO2 savings of 10,000 tons.

Accelerating its decarbonisation strategy, Volkswagen AG has set itself the ambitious goal to make its data centres net carbon-neutral by 2027. This would be three years earlier than foreseen in the European Green Deal, under which European data centre operators agreed to make their data centres climate-neutral by 2030. To achieve this goal, Volkswagen has expanded its data centre operations at Green Mountain. All servers at Green Mountain run on 100 per cent renewable electricity generated by hydropower and are cooled naturally by the adjacent fjord.

Hauke Stars, member of the board of management, IT and digitalisation, explained: “Green IT is a key topic on our ESG agenda. While technology is the key driver for more efficiency, an improved customer experience, and new business models, IT accounts for about three per cent of global CO2 emissions. Given the rising demand for computing power and data storage to enable Volkswagen Group’s ‘New Auto’ strategy, a sustainable IT roadmap with ambitious goals is paramount to systematically reduce our carbon footprint. With data centres being the biggest contributor of carbon emissions in IT, expanding our computing capacity at Green Mountain is a strong lever to make our data centre operations carbon-neutral by 2027.”

The cooperation with Green Mountain started back in June 2019, when Volkswagen Group opened its data centre operations at Green Mountain’s RJU1-Rjukan site in Telemark, Norway. The goal was to outsource non time-critical, high-performance computing projects like crash-test simulations to free up capacity in Volkswagen Group’s data centres at the headquarters needed for critical business applications. In total, Volkswagen Group has six data centre operations worldwide, three in Wolfsburg, two in Norway, one in Singapore.

With Volkswagen AG’s latest expansion to Green Mountain’s SVG1-Rennesøy data centre, one quarter of the Group’s global computing power requirements will run carbon-neutrally. This corresponds to annual CO2 savings of 10,000 tons. The renewable power used for Volkswagen’s data centre operation at Green Mountain would be sufficient to provide 500 households with green electricity for one year.

“We appreciate the renewed trust Volkswagen has placed in us and are pleased to support them on their journey towards full carbon-neutrality,” said Tor Kristian Gyland, CEO of Green Mountain. “Together we share the same vision of a more sustainable future.”

For the new site at SVG1-Rennesøy, Green Mountain converted a former high security NATO ammunition storage facility into a unique 22,600m² high-security mountain hall colocation data centre. The infrastructure has been designed to be expanded up to 2×26 MW, with Volkswagen using three MW of capacity. For the cooling, which in traditional data centres accounts for 40 to 80 per cent of the electricity required to power the servers, SVG1-Rennesøy takes advantage of the adjacent deep-water fjord reaching 100 metres, with a constant water temperature of eight degrees Celsius all year round.

In Norway, 98.9 per cent of the electricity production is renewable, with the majority generated from hydropower. Hydropower has both a minimal carbon footprint as well as marginal ecological impact. The Norwegian government vigorously promotes the utilisation of power from renewable energy sources for new branches of industry, for example, in climate-neutral data centres. Tax breaks, low energy prices and stable political conditions make Norway an ideal location for green IT.

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