The resilience of data centres across Europe is at risk as the industry looks towards a permanent renewable energy infrastructure, according to a major new report launched by global temporary power and temperature solutions company, Aggreko.
The report – Mission Critical –
provides unique insight of 700 data centre consultants across the Netherlands,
France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Ireland, following a survey
conducted by independent agency Censuswide on behalf of Aggreko.
The results found that more than half (55%)
of those surveyed expressed at least some concern about the capabilities of the
local grid and energy infrastructure’s ability to meet current demand. Among
the least confident were respondents in the UK and the Netherlands.
Grid limitations were also the cause of most
power outages across the regions for 60% of respondents. This could be one of
the reasons for the high take up of renewable technology, with solar (70.4%)
and wind (65.4%) popular among Europe. However, while the move towards
renewables appears to be gathering pace, a number of barriers to adopting the
technology were also highlighted, including energy storage and changing
While the uptake in renewables is to be
welcomed, it could leave the resilience of data centre facilities at risk, as
Chris Rason, UK Managing Director of Aggreko, explains: “Renewable technology
is a key driver for the data centre market, and our research shows that both
solar and wind are popular technologies.
“However, as the use of these technologies
increases, the risk to resilience also rises, especially during periods of
intermittent energy supply. Energy storage is clearly a concern here, but as
the use of diesel generators drops, operators and contractors need to look for
greener solutions to ensure back-up power is available during periods of
On-site generation is also considered in the
report, after more than 60% claimed that power security was a key driver to
adopting a decentralised energy solution. Only one third (35.7%) admitted that
on-site generation was in place as a revenue stream, while almost half (47%)
cited rising energy costs as a key driver.
The report also includes an opinion piece
from Zahl Limbuwala, Executive Director of Strategy & Market Engagement for
CBRE Data Centre Solutions Group. He comments: “The findings from Aggreko’s
survey provide further evidence of the rising challenges facing data centre
operators. As the industry continues to grow, these challenges will only become
more prevalent and perhaps a barrier to continued progress. Understanding the
obstacles – and how to overcome them – is extremely important but we are
confident our innovative industry can rise to the challenge.”
The survey results also show cause for
concern when considering a data centre’s ability to cope with temperature
demand. Last year saw Europe experience record high temperatures. With over 40%
of respondents believing that first generation data centres are not able to
meet temperature challenges, the question of whether facilities are able to
cope with a warming planet continue to be raised.
Chris Rason adds: “Addressing the concerns of
rising temperatures is already a priority for data centres and we have seen a
trend towards free cooling being implemented in facilities. However, with
temperatures on the increase, consultants are showing uncertainty as to whether
facilities can indeed cope with the heat.
“Data centre operators and managers should
ask themselves ‘can this facility cope with sustained periods of heat?’ If the
answer is no, then considering alternative or temporary cooling solutions
during peak periods should be encouraged.”
The report – Mission Critical: Power resilience, competitiveness and sustainability in European Data Centres – can be downloaded on the Aggreko website.