Data Centres are Crucial in Digital Transformation – Alliance Talk on the Data Centre Industry in Germany

The “We give data a home! The data centre industry in Germany” Alliance Talk on Wednesday, 15 May 2024, at BASECAMP Berlin brought together representatives from the Internet industry, users and politicians to discuss both the importance and the necessary framework conditions for data centres in Germany.

Data centres – in all their forms – are crucial in the digital transformation of the economy and society. They are part of an ecosystem that makes communication via email, online shopping, smart production lines and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) possible in the first place.

AI was of crucial importance in the debate about the need for secure and high-performance digital infrastructures. This is because the training and application of the technology requires a large amount of data, some of which is sensitive.

This is no secret to the members of the Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, which was founded under the umbrella of eco. As things stand today, the rapid growth in data, driven in no small part by AI, will require the construction of new data centre capacities, according to Günter Eggers, Director Public at NTT Global Data Centers EMEA, in his introduction to the topic. However, this also requires the right framework conditions in Germany.

Benjamin Brake, Head of the DP Digital and Data Policy Department at the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport Affairs (BMDV), who provided the impetus, emphasised that this is a debate that is not only well-known but is also being conducted in the responsible ministry. This is because the proportion of data centre capacities in Germany is currently decreasing, even though the country is still a leader in international comparison. In the subsequent interview with Brake, eco’s Managing Director Alexander Rabe was not the only one who wanted to know why this is the case.

In the panel discussion moderated by Alexa von Busse, the consequences of the Energy Efficiency Act, lengthy building permit procedures and high electricity prices were debated with regard to the futureproofing of Germany as a digital location.

Nicolas Zippelius, CDU Member of the Bundestag, Maximilian Funke-Kaiser, FDP Member of the Bundestag and Dr Jens Zimmermann, SPD Member of the Bundestag, took part from a political perspective. Dr Bernd Lohmann, CTO of Bayer AG, reported from the user perspective and Carsten Kestermann, Head of AWS Public Policy DACH, represented the operator perspective.

During the discussion, it became clear that Germany has numerous strengths as a digital centre, not least thanks to DE-CIX, the world’s largest Internet Exchange. However, in order to be prepared for the requirements of the future, it is important to invest now and also to shape the political framework in such a way that AI will continue to have a home in Germany in the future.

This is important, not least for the users. The corporate mission of pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer AG is to save lives with their products. However, in order to develop these drugs, they are dependent on a high-performance, secure ecosystem of digital infrastructures in Germany, Europe and worldwide.

Energy-efficient operation of data centres is important for both operators and policymakers. In order for digitalisation to contribute to achieving the climate targets in Europe, uniform standards in terms of sustainability and energy efficiency are needed for data centres in all their different forms. National labels such as the German Blue Angel cannot be the solution for a standardised European Single Market.

In Germany, the debate surrounding the Energy Efficiency Act (EnEfG) must also be continued. The law is currently in the process of being revised and harmonised with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. For the data centre industry, this is the time to once again address pressing problems of the existing law with pragmatic proposals for solutions.

Ultimately, only a close dialogue between politics and business can help drive forward a sustainable and secure digital transformation in Germany and Europe that not only makes us fit for the future, but also supports us in the fight against climate change. This was clearly demonstrated at the “We give data a home! The data centre industry in Germany” Alliance Talk.


Here you can find the video summary of the German-language event as well as pictures. You can watch the entire Alliance Talk here – watch it now!

The Alliance has published a press release on the discussion surrounding the changes to the Energy Efficiency Act currently being negotiated, which you can read here.

Data Centres are Crucial in Digital Transformation – AllianzTalk on the Data Centre Industry in Germany