Clean energy drives data centers towards a sustainable future. Securing a sustainable future is more important today than ever. It’s a race against time to achieve zero emissions, because while we are making evident progress toward that goal, climate scientists are clear: “We still have a long way to go.” Fortunately, corporate action in this area it’s speeding up As we continue to drive the tides of change, companies need to focus on solutions that not only help them achieve their carbon reduction goals, but also help their customers achieve their own goals. climatic. Positive-impact solutions become force multipliers as we collectively and rigorously fight for a net-zero future. Data center operators, who contract for large amounts of electricity, can make great strides in reducing carbon using renewable energy for its operations. As they (the operators) invest in the acquisition of renewable energy for their facilities, they can pass on the benefits to their customers, thus beginning the development of a clean energy ecosystem. It is encouraging that data center customers are increasingly looking for sustainable energy supplies, which they will be able to access more often. Operators in our industry, including Iron Mountain, have proven renewables to be a reliable and cost-effective source of energy by activating innovative solutions, making clean energy more accessible to all. We are all in this race together. From Iron Mountain we reinforce our opportunities to share our lessons learned with other organizations such as the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), which is committed to global help in the decarbonization of energy. Data centers need to recognize that we have a significant opportunity to satisfy customers and work to reverse the damage to our planet. Environmental awareness should be woven between all of us, as we look for ways to raise our sustainability challenges in our industry and consider what we can do to overcome them. Our joint goal should be to demonstrate to our customers that we can help them achieve their own sustainability goals as well.
Spain as a leader in renewable energy generation
Spain is rapidly emerging as one of the European leaders in renewable energy generation, supporting global sustainability goals. In 2021, renewable technologies in Spain produced 46.7% of all the electricity generated in the country, registering its highest participation in the generation mix since records exist. For this reason, Iron Mountain has recently acquired XData Properties, one of the largest data center park in Madrid. This acquisition of XData enables IRM to meet the growing demand for connected data center services across Europe, for businesses to be compliant and sustainable. For all these reasons, Madrid is emerging as a strategic and growing market.
A green approach to energy supply
Data centers contribute substantially to energy use and carbon emissions. The need for such operations today is inevitable, but there are things we can do to minimize our carbon footprint. Helping customers in their fight for zero carbon emissions is vital to this. Data center companies purchase renewable energy at scale and can provide their customers with the power they need, from a simple library to an entire data room. The development of more renewable supply channels is also the key. We now know that it is possible to create renewable energy procurement solutions at a competitive price, and if more data center companies work towards it, more data center customers around the world will be able to enjoy contracts with long-term clean energy with stable costs. It is also important that the data center is considered part of the environmental solution so that operations are sustainable from start to finish. Green building certifications, such as LEED or BREEAM, for example, are the first step on this journey.
Clean energy drives data centers towards a sustainable future
Fundamentally, renewable energy is not only environmentally and socially responsible, but also efficient and reliable. Those with reliability concerns can rest assured that the data center space is deeply focused on customer activity.
Alternative resources for a low carbon future
There are some questions that have been raised in recent years about the potential of new alternative energy resources being harnessed for backup power. Batteries, for example, are a likely contender in the near term, as the ability to add additional storage can be realized as battery costs decline. In the same way, designing a new one makes it easier to incorporate the megawatt storage space to become truly efficient. Other solutions, such as hydrogen, are more difficult to propose today, but must be considered in the long term. There really is a role for hydrogen in the low carbon future, but right now, there are big barriers to overcome before we can harness it as an energy resource. The cost of hydrogen is high and distribution will be challenging, therefore government purchase is necessary before this option is fully explored.
From an environmental and financial starting point, there are many opportunities for further improvement once a clean energy system is in place. Tracking emissions with location and market-based methodologies is integral. This allows businesses to recognize the macro impact of purchasing renewable energy and track how their local grids are becoming greener. The more we can push renewable energy into local grids, the more performance will improve for all of us, across the board. Financially, being more aware of when to put carbon-free power on the grid to fully decarbonise. Renewable energy is the lowest cost energy possible, while unmatched (carbon-based) hours are the most expensive. In this way, the more you invest in renewables within your local grids, the better you align your consumption when energy is available and develop storage to unite these two pieces, the lower your energy costs will be and the more resilient your grids will be.Finally, although driven by A desire to simply protect our planet, clean energy adoption is very much geared towards the greater good of our industry going forward. Committing to sustainability is no longer something that is “okay to do”, it is essential for longevity in an environmentally conscious world. Together we must all focus on meeting the carbon clean energy forecast of every hour of every day, under the United Nations Compact on Energy 2021, and strive for a greener grid overall. The benefits will not only contribute to a healthier planet alone, but to a healthier world overall.Author: Chris Pennington, Director of Energy and Sustainability at Iron Mountain