According to Global Data, global data centre revenues in 2030 will reach $948 billion. While this is promising news for the tech sector at large, growth at such exponential rates does not come without an environmental price to pay.
To give readers an idea of some numbers, data centres collectively make up 1-1.5% of global electricity consumption. Growth is happening apace, and the energy data centres consume is due to quadruple by the end of the decade. Sustainability, therefore, must be integrated into their design to avoid any net zero aims being a pipe dream
Energy Digital takes a look at the top 10 data centres making sizable strides within the sustainability field.
When Greenpeace offers its plaudits, paying attention is not a bad idea. The data centre company received the highest rating for any type of company in its Clicking Clean Report. No doubt, the fact that they have been running on renewable energy since 2016 has a good deal to do with this.
And it’s not just Greenpeace: the S&P has also given Switch its highest environmental rating, the global ratings company underscoring both social and governance standards.
A heavy hitter within the Asia-Pacific region is AirTrunk. It was founded in 2015 and articulates its vision “to continuously redefice and deliver the hyperscale data centres of tomorrow, in order to meet the needs of the world’s most influential technology companies today and in the future.”
Regarding its operations, one area of note is the fact that it optimises water efficiency through water conservation efforts. As a token devotion to the cause of sustainability, they are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.
EdgeConneX is riding the wave of the $1,7bn in sustainability funding it realised earlier this year. The company's ESG sustainability strategy aims mean that EdgeConneX will, by 2030, be a carbon-, waste-, and water-neutral data center provider, developing and operating a data center platform powered by 100% renewable energy.
Ark Data Centres is arguably the most efficient data centre company in the United Kingdom and has articulated its vision of minimising the environmental impact. In this spirit, it has fully integrated an environmental management system into its operations. The company has committed itself to the European Green Deal, achieving the ambitious greenhouse gas reductions of the climate law, and leveraging technology and digitalisation to achieve the goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050.
Leading the charge in Latin America is Scala Data Centers - the leading hyperscale data centre in the LatAm region. Founded in 2020, it is the first data centre company in the region to use 100% renewable energy, it has a 1.5 PUE, and has pledged that all of its buildings will have a 1.4 PUE once operational.
Furthermore, as of May 2021, the company received a CarbonNeutral certification.
Powered 100% by renewable energy, fluent in carbon credit assistance, and with a low PUE, Iron Mountain sets an example for all in the industry looking to improve upon sustainability endeavors.
The company hopes to have achieved net zero by 2040 (10 years ahead of the Paris Climate Accord), the same year in which it aims to be using 100% clean electricity. And as a signatory to the EU Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, the company also hopes to have achieved carbon neutrality by 2030.
Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Equinix models itself as "world's digital infrastructure company," operating from corner to corner of the globe - namely from the Americas to Asia.
The company is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030 in accordance with science-based targets. Furthermore it has a new ESG plan and has invested over $129m in energy upgrades, retrofits and improvements.
In 2021, Schneider Electric was designated as the most sustainable company in the world, and in 2022 it was called the number on PPA marketplace solution provider by Guidehouse Insights.
The company isn’t just green itself, it also helps its clients in their efforts to be more sustainable. An example of this would be its work with the nation of Italy, where 40% of energy has been made renewable thanks to Schneider’s EcoStruxure Smart Grid.
Recipient of the 2021 EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award (thanks to its energy efficiency initiative), this company is the first data centre in the world to reach 1GW of sustainable IT capacity. It also has 64% renewable energy coverage, a figure that increased by 14% in a year.
Progressing at breakneck speed, in 2021 alone, it added 118MW of solar and wind power to its energy grid. As well, it has completed the issuance of tow green bonds, valuing its cumulative green bonds since 2015 to $6bn.
1. Google Cloud
What may come as a surprise to very few, Google takes the number one spot. The company was the first major corporation to go carbon neutral, a feat it achieved way back in 2007. A decade later, it would become the first major company to use 100% renewable energy.
Building on the legacy, the California-based company has kept its ambitions high: it has stated that it intends to operate a 24/7 carbon-free set up across its entire global data network by the end of the decade.