5 Facts on the Sustainability Effects of Data Centres: eco Alliance for Digital Infrastructures Calls for Rapid Roll-out of Renewable Energies

The digital transformation has an impact on various aspects of sustainability, such as resource efficiency and the achievement of climate protection goals.

Given this fact, the new German traffic light coalition is closely interlinking the topics of digitalisation and sustainability, with this occurring for the first time in a German coalition agreement.

The Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, founded under the umbrella of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, warmly welcomes this development, and affirms that these two topics must be intertwined, given that digital infrastructures as well as digital technologies and services offer great potential for tackling climate change and other sustainability goals.

In this light, the data centre operators emphasise just how important the rapid roll-out of renewable energies in Germany as a business location is.

While the companies view the bringing forward of the coal phase-out to 2030 as being ambitious, they attest that the sufficient switch to renewable energy supply is absolutely necessary. This is required in order to constructively flank the associated challenges for the economy, especially for data centres, which are now already supposed to run on a climate-neutral basis by 2027. The planned finish-up of the Renewable Energy Law (EEG) levy from 2023 is seen as helpful in this context.

“The members of the Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, which was founded under the umbrella of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, have set themselves the goal of doing their part to achieve the German and European climate goals. And already today, the eco-balance of digitalisation is positive; in numerous economic sectors, CO2 is saved on a net basis through digital technologies and applications”, says Dr. Béla Waldhauser, Spokesperson for the Alliance. According to Greenpeace, just one day of working from home per week could save 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year in Germany – thanks to digital technologies.

“As operators of digital infrastructures, we are proud to have advanced digitalisation in an increasingly energy-efficient manner in recent years and also to have taken the first steps together with municipalities and public utilities in the area of waste heat utilisation”, Waldhauser goes on to say.

“We would like to see a faster approach in terms of cooperation and planning procedures, but above all, Germany needs to move much more quickly on the climate change. Data centre operators are not CO2 emitters per se, but energy consumers, and in terms of the energy mix, what Germany offers us is open to criticism, because it is based on fossil fuels. It is therefore necessary to make renewable energies available in sufficient quantities more quickly. With our continuous measures to improve energy efficiency – and if we are provided with the necessary energy mix – we can make our contribution to achieving the ambitious climate protection goals of the coalition parties. In short, in order to achieve the ambitious goals of this coalition agreement in terms of climate neutrality for data centres, the industry and policy-makers at the federal, state and municipal levels must work together closely and in a spirit of trust. We are ready for this”, says Dr Béla Waldhauser, Spokesperson for the Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany.

5 facts on the sustainability effects of data centres

  1. The CO2 emissions of European data centres have been trending downwards since 2015. Today, they require 12 times less energy per workload than in 2010.
  2. Through the consistent utilisation of waste heat from data centres, all residential and office space in Frankfurt – home to the world’s largest Internet Exchange – could be heated in a CO2-neutral manner by 2030.
  3. As a general rule, switching to professional cloud computing providers saves companies up to 80 percent electricity compared to independently operated local infrastructure.
  4. The 5G mobile communications standard transmits the same amount of data with almost 80 percent less energy than its 4G Data transmission via fibre optic cables requires around 5 times less energy than copper connections.
  5. According to the German Economic Institute, the manufacturing sector alone could save up to 10 billion Euro through the leverage effect of digitalization, and at the same time sustainably conserve resources.



Bela Waldhauser