eco Alliance: Energy Efficiency Act Boosts Ecological Balance of Digitalisation

The German Bundestag is expected to adopt the Energy Efficiency Act today, Thursday.

The Alliance for the Strengthening of Digital Infrastructures in Germany, founded under the umbrella of the eco Association, sees great potential in the new act for optimising the utilisation of waste heat from data centres, and thus also for achieving the climate goals in Germany. At the same time, the following is called for: In order to extract the maximum sustainability potential from digital infrastructures, and also to make the best possible utilisation of data centre waste heat, the federal, state and municipalities must remedy further political deficits. The lagging roll-out of renewable energies, the fibre optic network, and the local and district heating networks would still put too much of a brake on the new act and its potential.

Dr BĂ©la Waldhauser, Spokesperson of the eco Alliance, has the following to say:

“Even if theory and practice were initially too far apart in the first drafts of the Energy Efficiency Act, the common denominator between politics and the industry has always existed: waste heat from data centres should not be allowed to simply fizzle out into the air. In Frankfurt alone – home to more than 60 data centres and the largest Internet Exchange – all residential and office space could theoretically be heated in a CO2-neutral manner by 2030.

“With the new act’s specification of an annual average Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.2, the Energy Efficiency Act now goes significantly beyond the specifications discussed at the European level, thereby presenting major challenges for data centre operators in Germany. The possible consequences for the industry resulting from these ambitious specifications must therefore be a central focus of further development.

“To understand this: the PUE expresses the ratio of IT power to the power requirements of power supply, cooling, lighting, and other non-IT facilities. The PUE is a technical parameter that was never intended to be the sole regulatory efficiency value.

“The closer the PUE value approaches the theoretical value of 1.0 for commercial data centres, the more difficult it is to achieve. Among other purposes, data centres are built to protect important as well as sensitive IT systems from power supply and cooling failures. The equipment required for this also consumes electricity itself.

“Due to the Readiness Approach now outlined in the act, data centres will in future be planned to include the possibility of waste heat delivery from the outset. As a result, operators will be able to release their waste heat when needed with acceptable time, technical and commercial effort. The data centre industry can and is willing to meet these requirements.

“However, further political and technical framework conditions are required for improved waste heat utilisation. In concrete terms, this means that the German federal government, federal states and municipalities must expand local and district heating networks and optimise technical systems for waste heat utilization. They also should, for example, create purchase obligations for heating network operators and develop utilisation opportunities, both in cities and in rural areas.

“Furthermore, sufficient renewable energies and a broad 5G supply for mobile Internet are needed in Germany in order to leverage the sustainability potential of digital infrastructures across the country. The German federal government must start to work quickly on implementing these measures. Otherwise, it will not be possible to reach the possible maximum of the sustainability potential of digital infrastructures.”





Bela Waldhauser