Europe’s datacentres will gobble up a lot more electricity


Cables and servers in the computers room at a datacentre, a subsidiary of the French Free wireless service provider group, in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumone. Despite the tech industry’s focus on renewable energy, datacentres still need large amounts of fossil fuels to keep them running, and the European Union has urged sites to be made more climate friendly. — AFP

Europe’s datacentre industry will use much more electricity by the end of this decade, accounting for about a quarter of total power consumption in Ireland alone, according to BloombergNEF.

The region’s transition to a digital economy will need more megacentres to store and process vast amounts of data, requiring extra electricity to run and keep computers from overheating. That means power demand at the sites in the key markets of Germany, the Netherlands, UK, Norway and Ireland should jump about 80% to almost 48 terrawatt-hours by 2030, BloombergNEF said.

Despite the tech industry’s focus on renewable energy, datacentres still need large amounts of fossil fuels to keep them running, and the European Union has urged sites to be made more climate friendly. More centres may also make it harder for older grids to keep up with usage, though there’s potential for their expansion to offer more flexible supplies to aid grid systems when needed.

“Datacentres may warrant at least as much attention as electric vehicles when it comes load management and impacts on the power network,” BloombergNEF said in a report on Thursday.

In Ireland, where tech giants such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com Inc have datacentres, such sites will account for 24% of the country’s power demand by 2030, up from 15% now, BloombergNEF said. That’s much more than the increase seen in other markets like Germany and the Netherlands.

More flexibility at datacentres – through energy storage or back-up generation – could help stabilise power systems and integrate more renewable generation, the report showed. In Ireland for example, there could be one gigawatt of flexible capacity by 2030, about twice the estimated installed battery capacity by then. – Bloomberg

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