In the 2020 budget, the government announced that many sectors will lose their entitlement to use red diesel from April 2022. The reforms support the UK’s bold environmental commitments to improve air quality, champion greener fuels, and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Mark Griffiths, Head of Business Development at Adler and Allan, examines the impact of the new laws for data centre operators – and explains why acting now to review assets could boost the long-term resilience, lifespan, and performance of your overall infrastructure.
Data and network centres who depend on red diesel for business-critical back-up power – and benefit from an 80% tax saving per litre – must now implement measures to replace existing reserves with alternative fuel options, such as white diesel, HVO (a 100% renewable ‘drop in’ diesel substitute), or even BioDiesel.
Protecting the planet’s resources – and your professional reputation
In a sector where the promise of power continuity can make or break businesses, sweeping changes to back-up generation systems could put contracts, customer relationships and critical services on the line. So while rolling back red diesel rebates is the right move for the environment, can data centres really balance ecological responsibility with rising costs and the far-reaching risk of operational downtime?
Whatever your tier, the answer lies in a long-term view and recognition that revamped red diesel rules are more than a standalone fuel supply swap. They are a turning point for companies and a mandatory move towards ecological accountability for the UK as a whole. Under ambitious government climate change targets, protective policies across air and water quality, biodiversity, natural resources, and waste management will continue to be enshrined in law.
Working with an experienced consultant will help you expertly tackle the immediate task of red diesel replenishment and shape a cost-effective, compliant and sustainable environmental strategy for the future – while continuing to deliver on the strictest of SLAs.
Bespoke routes to a greener business
The replacement of red diesel involves a specialised sequence of tank cleaning, line flushing, and the uplift of current stores to make way for onward fuel. For data and network storage facilities, whose prime deliverable is peace of mind, the success of the procedure – and its direct impact on your end-users – depends on a detailed understanding of your operations, assets, and risk profile.
As well as performing the complex fuel transfer process, a qualified consultant can carry out a comprehensive portfolio survey to ensure your infrastructure is fit for purpose going forward. A full estate inspection will identify structural and functional weaknesses – linked to age, internal corrosion, and exposure to the elements – that could lead to service failures, pollution events, and punitive fines under increasingly tough environmental laws. A trusted partner will also discuss how improvements to your fuel management and maintenance programme could unlock long-range cost savings and efficiencies.
As a first step, an environmental professional will undertake a practical audit of assets to gauge their condition, potential ecological hazards, and the recommended plan for fuel uplift and fulfilment. To ensure unfaltering operational continuity, fuel replenishment for back-up generators is likely to require a completely bespoke, phased methodology.
Following open dialogue and mutual agreement of your most beneficial approach, skilled onsite technicians – trained in the use of all fuel transfer pumps, handling hazardous materials, and spill response procedures – will implement diversion systems and temporary fuel supplies to prevent downtime and disruption.
Additional services will include full tank inspections to identify signs of degradation, comprehensive cleaning, and removal of red diesel dyes to prevent penalties under new regulations. Once tanks are degassed and clear of residue, legacy fuel will be removed and disposed of in line with current compliance guidelines.
Tailored follow-up consultation will focus on top line business aims and your organisation’s long-term environmental risk reduction plan, with every element designed to prolong the life of your assets and protect your company, clients, and the wider community.
One compliant step at a time
The finer details of red diesel reforms are yet to be revealed, but prudent operators will take immediate – yet measured – action. By initiating the planning process now, and aligning with a commercially minded risk specialist, it is possible to intelligently spread investment and mitigate the financial burden of building a greener business. An expert partner will help you pinpoint and prioritise your most urgent environmental risks, while – crucially – setting timescales for less urgent requirements, allowing you to make meaningful changes at a manageable pace.
Readying your centres for the red diesel switch and developing a deeper understanding of your environmental threats and opportunities are sensible places to start. Working with a single, proven supplier who can guide you through the entire process – from discovery to delivery – will ensure you remain compliant, provide unswerving support to your customers, and meet evolving expectations around environmental responsibility.