September 28, 2023
Some of the biggest names in the IT and building technology industries have teamed up to jointly launch a new R&D hub for green data centres, which aims to develop new solutions that can slash the carbon footprint of the fast-expanding sector. Google, Microsoft, Danfoss, and Schneider Electric have this morning been named as the founders of the new Net Zero Innovation Hub For Data Centres, located in Fredericia, Denmark. The group, which also includes Danish data centre trade body Datacenter Industrien, said it was looking to bring together key stakeholders in the European data centre sector, including operators, suppliers, NGOs, universities, and electricity and network companies. "The consortium will function as a neutral meeting place where key players can enter into collaborations and develop new innovative solutions that can be quickly implemented for the benefit of the green transition," the group said. "At the same time, it will serve as an opportunity to share best practices and guidance from leading researchers. Initially, the focus is on developing solutions that lower or equalise the data centres' carbon emissions and contribute to the stabilisation of the electricity grid." According to estimates from the International Energy Agency, data centres account for around one per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions globally. However, with demand for cloud computing and data services soaring - global internet traffic has increased 25-fold over the past decade - the sector's carbon footprint is projected to increase significantly in the coming years. As such, leading tech companies have invested heavily in a range of green data centre technologies designed to optimise energy and resource efficiency and increase access to clean power. The new hub aims to support these efforts by sharing best practices and supporting a range of innovative new projects. The group said its first pilot project is already under development and will aim to develop new models for using excess heat from data centres, for example, by connecting the data centres directly to local district heating systems. Other projects in the pipeline aim to optimise data centre use of renewable power and reduce emissions from the sector's supply chain. "This initiative reflects the level of commitment and responsibility the data centre industry is willing to take to solve the challenges ahead," said Henrik Hansen, CEO at Datacenter Industrien. "The roadmap to zero-carbon data centers requires solutions beyond the industry's capabilities to solve independently. The open-sourced approach with stakeholders, both within and outside of the industry, will significantly accelerate the industry towards net zero, aligning with EU's ambitions for data centres by 2030." Jürgen Fischer, president at Danfoss Climate Solutions, said the new hub would help accelerate the adoption of green data centre technologies. "We want to revolutionise how we build data centres," he said. "Danfoss is already working with our customers to build decarbonised data centres, but we need to speed things up and do it in partnerships across borders and industries. That's why Danfoss is proud to launch the Net Zero Innovation Hub For Data Centers, a neutral meeting place where key players can enter into collaboration to build better and more sustainable data centres." Mic Seremet, product owner for Schneider Electric Kolding, added that the hub would also help deliver new flexible grid services. "Our grid is under pressure as we're shifting from a few centralised fossil fueled power plants to a decentralised energy landscape with a large number of renewable sources," he said. "This means we must rethink our energy landscape. We are looking very much forward to contributing to this transformation as part of the Hub, with concrete solutions, such as a technology platform that turns data centres into active decarbonisation players, provides flexibility to deploy innovative energy resource technologies while accelerating data centre construction to help facilitate this transformation."