Net zero climate targets are under threat

Rob Elder, VP Sales and Marketing, Data Centers

I recently participated in a video interview with Data Centre Solutions to discuss how energy price rises are shaking up the data center industry.

In the face of the energy supply crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine we are seeing governments across Europe turning back to coal power generation, to firm up capacity.

In June the UK government announced that West Burton coal power station will remain open this winter, and negotiations with Britain’s two other remaining coal plants are ongoing. This follows Germany and Austria announcing an emergency restart of coal power stations, with Italy and the Netherlands likely to follow suit.

The International Energy Agency has warned that Europe should be ready for Russia to turn off all gas exports to the region this winter. Though it acknowledges that this isn’t the most likely scenario, it could be on the table as the country seeks to gain political leverage.

Stay firm

With such challenging economic and political headwinds, we are inevitably seeing some commentators questioning the viability of going green”. However, the current crisis highlights just how reliant we are on fossil fuels, and this has provided even more impetus (if this was needed) to scale renewable solutions.

The European Union recently outlined a $300bn plan to reduce its energy dependency on Russian fossil fuel imports by 2027, and alongside green legislation illustrates the desire to move towards long term sustainable solutions.

We are seeing new technologies emerging, but clearly more must be done to develop solutions, and energy storage must be applied. Last month, the European Association for Storage of Energy and its members modelled the need for energy storage in the European system and found that 190GW will be required by 2030, equivalent to 14GW a year of new installations, in a market that installed less than a gigawatt during 2021.

It is essential that we remain steadfast in our commitment to net zero during this time, as the potential for medium-long term opportunities will help to unlock a wealth of growth opportunities across the economy in the decades to come.


Look North

Clearly nowhere in the world is completely immune to energy supply threats or detached from the global energy market. That said, some territories, such as Norway have an abundance of renewable sources, resulting in a surplus of energy which can be offered back into to the grid.

In 2020 Norway had an electricity production record of 154.2 TWh from over 1600 hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 136.4 TWh accounting for 90% of its power production. 53 wind farms produce 13.1TWh per year and account for 6.4% of the country’s electricity. Thermal energy produces 3.4TWhs and solar around 40MW.

Conclusion

As the cost of energy becomes a much larger part of digital infrastructure OPEX, we are seeing a growing demand from customers to shift data loads from high-cost markets to lower-cost locations, which provides a viable alternative at a low cost and low carbon solution for countries experiencing capacity shortages.

For all companies searching for long term green power alternatives without losing the connection required for data center workloads, Bulk provides a holistic solution.