European data center operators have major concerns about their energy supply

data centre
(Image credit: Future)

New research has claimed European data center operators are growing increasingly concerned about their energy supply as the continent’s energy crisis - caused partly as an indirect result of Russia’s Ukraine invasion - continues.

A study by Aggreko (opens in new tab) of 700 data center professionals across seven European countries, including the UK, France, and parts of Scandinavia, found that concerns about the current grid infrastructure are leading to an uncertain future - most so in the UK.

The solution, says Aggreko’s European Sector Leader for Data Centers, Guido Neijmeijer, is to focus on hybrid generation and batteries for storage, which he says will enable data centers to “[strike] a balance between power, sustainability and efficiency.”

An uncertain future for data centers

The analysis found that almost one-third (30%) of respondents believe their local grid and energy infrastructure is unable to meet current and future demand over the course of the next five years, despite access to the grid playing a crucial part in the decision making process for new data center placement. 

Norway, a country with ambitious environmental goals that leads the way in numerous sectors including electric vehicle adoption - ranks ambient weather conditions as its key driver for data center placement. A coastal or hilltop location, for example, would allow a site to harness the power of the wind and cool air, in turn cooling the servers for free.

It seems that the challenges are set to continue, though, with increasing global temperatures set to result in inferior thermal efficiencies. That, along with internationally ageing infrastructure, have raised alarm bells.

Looking ahead, Aggreko reckons a focus on efficiency is needed. In the meantime, some trials have been carried out to recycle waste heat, including pumping heat into swimming pools. Others believe a more focused approach to data storage is needed to eliminate unwanted data creating an unnecessary strain on data centers - and the grid. Overall, a solution likely lies in a combination of all of the above, and more, to meet targets and reduce energy consumption.

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!