Towards a digital society: heating or cooling the climate?

High level event organised by Minister Claude Turmes

Towards a digital society: heating or cooling the climate?
Meeting energy efficiency targets – a case study on energy consumption of data centres.

Digitalisation has a strong impact on the energy system and can lead to more or less energy savings, as shown by Fraunhofer ISI in their 2050 Energy Savings Scenarios published earlier this year.

One immediate and direct effect is the exponential growth in data processing and the construction of new data centres. In several EU countries, like Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg this development is reported as having a certain impact on the energy system, driving up energy demand by 2030.

In this context, this high level event will bring together experts and technology providers as well as politicians, regulators and stakeholders in order to present the state of play, to gain more insight about this emerging issue and to discuss the policy consequences.

Presentations:

Barbara Schlomann, Fraunhofer ISI: Societal trends in energy consumption modelling: the impact of digitalisation
Paolo Bertoldi, Joint Research Center, European Commission: European code of conduct for data centres: achievements and limits of the approach
Serge Conesa, CEO and founder of immersion4: Making the cloud cool again – technologies to reduce energy consumption of data centres
Ray Gluckman, HVACR consultant: Sustainalbe cooling of data centres
 

Conclusions:

Luxembourg's energy minister calls for EU action on energy guzzling data centres

The growing energy demand of going digital, with data centres being at the heart, is a big issue, according to Claude Turmes, Luxembourg's minister for energy and spatial planning. Google's planned Euro1bn data centre in Luxembourg will consume as much energy as the country's steel sector. It puts at risk the achievement of the country's climate and energy targets, while requiring building costly new supply infrastructure and purchasing renewable energy certificates from abroad to meet the data centre's demand for 24/24 steady energy supply.

Against this backdrop, experts from the Commission, industry and technology providers, confirmed at a workshop in Brussels that there is a significant and yet untapped energy savings potential in the sector. In the absence of regulatory standards, the Commission's JRC has developed a Code of Conduct, but it has reached less than 5% of the EU's data centres since 2007. Immediate energy saving options identified by the experts include, operating data centres at higher temperatures reducing cooling demand, switch from air to liquid cooling which would provide also other system benefits and to re-use waste heat in nearby buildings.