Data center hubs are producing more emissions than a million homes

(Image credit: David Reed from Pixabay)

Europe’s top five data center hubs produced as many emissions as 1.2 million homes in 2022, new figures have claimed.

According to research from DataVita, data centers located in London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, and Dublin used 2,478 MW of energy last year, contributing to a combined annual footprint of more than 6.25 million tonnes.

Worse still, DataVita reckons that by moving hubs to greener areas, CO2 emissions could be cut by more than 80%, illustrating just how far there is to go before we get anywhere near to a greener data center industry.

Location has a huge impact on data center emissions

The study found that countries with more renewable energy sources tended to produce data centers with a lower overall carbon intensity compared with those that rely on fossil fuels.

DataVita says that by shifting all five hubs to Scotland theoretically, emissions could be cut by more than 80%. Relocating Frankfurt’s hub – the most carbon-intense – to Scotland would see emissions drop by a staggering 91%.

Frankfurt’s average carbon intensity was rated at 473.62g, compared with 200.46g in London. A move to Scotland would see this drop to 54.97g, according to National Grid data relating to 2022.

Scotland also has a cooler climate than many other European regions, helping to reduce the cooling requirements somewhat.

DataVita Managing Director Danny Quinn summarized: “If organisations are serious about reducing the environmental impact of their IT services, they need to take a close look at where the critical infrastructure they use is located.”

Acknowledging the existing work being done to optimize power usage effectiveness, water usage, and waste heat recycling, Quinn added that the industry’s growth adds to the challenge, but a geographical shift could have wider economic benefits including creating jobs in new areas.

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