Europe

Big Tech gets involved in European energy policy

When Google wanted to build a new $ 1.1 billion data center in the Luxembourg countryside, the government supported the investment and helped the company acquire land. Dutch authorities have given Meta Platforms Inc. permission for what was promised to be even bigger. This is part of the country’s ambition to become a “digital hub” in Europe.

The pressure on energy supply from Russia’s Ukrainian War is now changing the political indicators of huge facilities. The two projects have been suspended due to grassroots resistance from locals and environmental activists. But with a focus on ensuring lighting this winter, data computing and storage, which can consume valuable power in small towns, are no longer prevalent in some European governments. Hmm.

Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark cooperated at the European Union Energy Ministers’ Meeting on 27 June to propose stricter efficiency measures. The aim is to have all 27 member states sign the same rules on Big Tech to protect the EU’s green energy goals. This means severely limiting the facilities that handle everything from social media posts to business apps.

“If we don’t respond to data centers, we lose the potential to emit gas and support energy transitions,” said Claude Termes, Luxembourg’s Minister of Energy and Space Planning and a member of the Greens.

Record prices have spurred EU countries to understand how to consume less electricity. The dilemma is how to align Brock’s green agenda with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s priority to ensure that the EU is leading the transition to a new digital world.

EU data centers already accounted for 2.7% of block electricity demand in 2018, and ongoing digital transformation is spending more and more people browsing the internet, shopping online, and streaming movies. It means that. If left unchecked, it could rise to 3.2% by 2030, the European Commission said. That is, it consumes almost 100 terawatt hours. This is about twice the electricity used by Greece in 2019.

Ireland’s energy regulator, one of the largest clusters of data centers, recently warned that consumers could eventually face a power outage without a new policy on access to the power grid. Data centers have predicted that by 2030, they could account for 23% of Ireland’s electricity demand.

The tech giant, who runs a data center in Europe, says it is already in compliance with its own high green standards. According to Meta, the hub has achieved net zero carbon emissions and is backed by 100% renewable energy. Microsoft Inc. aims to reduce the consumption of water used in server cooling systems by 95% by 2024.

The question is whether it is the right way to deploy green resources in the current climate, said Julia Krauwer, a technical analyst at the Dutch bank ABNAmro. “For many individuals and politicians, the fact that they are using energy from newly built wind farms for the benefit of very large data centers feels out of balance,” she said. Said.

Technology by policy makers as the EU discusses implementing an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% over the last decade from 1990 levels for large packages announced last year. There is a promotion of industrial greening.

The plan will impact every corner of the economy, introduce new goals to promote renewable energy, enhance energy savings, require businesses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and move towards cleaner transport. You will be forced to make the transition.

Then, in February, President Vladimirputin invaded Ukraine. In response, the EU announced that it would phase out fossil fuels imported from Russia and proposed further raising its renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for 2030.

Luxembourg’s Turmes and its allies aim to introduce more stringent reporting requirements into data centers, such as carbon emissions, renewable energy use, electricity, cooling and the effectiveness of water use. The five countries also want to empower the Commission to set minimum performance standards.

Currently, there are no binding and comprehensive EU-wide standards for energy efficiency in data centers that are set to spread across the continent. For example, the Netherlands already has a large facility for Google and Microsoft at Alphabet Inc., facing 20-25 new or expanded data center applications.

Meta, the owner of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, planned to invest in Zeewolde, a Dutch town 55 km (34 miles) east of Amsterdam. The company initially received a warm welcome from politicians in 2019.

Three years later, the local party, Leafbaar Zeewolde (“Livable Zeewolde” in English), won the regional vote and led a campaign against the facility. It will cover 166 hectares, which is equivalent to about 230 soccer fields, and will be the largest in Europe.

Shortly before the election, in February the Dutch government announced that it would block permits for new data centers over 10 hectares and over 70 megawatts of energy for nine months. However, the minister has exempted the region of Seewolde and the states where Google and Microsoft already host hyperscale centers.

According to the local government, the Meta Center was “one of the most efficient in the world”, with almost all watts entering the data center and being used to run computing equipment. Still, it was expected to use 1,380 gigawatt-hours of energy, twice the total consumption of Seewolde, which has a population of about 23,000.

It highlighted the scale of Europe’s challenges when energy is more scarce, said Guus Dix, an assistant professor at the University of Twente and a climate activist at Extinction Rebellion who participated in a campaign against the Seewolde data center. I am. “The energy available is limited, and there are other needs, such as greening homes and reducing Russia’s dependence on oil and gas,” he said.

Meta announced in March that it would cancel its data center plans. This is because we take pride in being a “good neighbor” and emphasize the importance of the project to be “perfect” for the community.

In Luxembourg, Google has agreed to acquire farmland in the Bissen commune in 2017 before the progress of the data center is delayed by adversaries. According to Campaign Group President Blanche Weber, Mouvement Ecologique has lost a major legal challenge in trying to prevent land from being reclassified for industrial rather than agricultural use. However, as of this year, work has not begun.

A Google spokeswoman said the site was ready, but the company has no further plans at this time. The government wants the company to make a decision, saying that if Google chooses to move forward, it needs to implement the most energy-efficient technologies.

But even if large companies are already using the latest innovations to reduce their environmental footprint, the transition to greening the sector is entirely due to the new focus on energy security. It may not be done fast enough. Danish data center industry, an association that promotes Danish industry.

“Suddenly, it’s very urgent because of the price and the war we’ve never seen before,” she said. “After all, in the data center industry, it’s very important for DNA to always focus on sustainability, as it benefits the business.”

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

http://www.luxtimes.lu/en/european-union/big-tech-gets-caught-up-in-europe-s-energy-politics-62b46ddede135b923691d999 Big Tech gets involved in European energy policy

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