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Dark clouds ahead of the climate summit: The underestimated importance of digitalisation for achieving the climate goals

Cloud&Heat Technologies Press News Article

UN Climate Change Conference 2019

Dresden, 12 September 2019. In the run-up to the UN Climate Change Summit, most of the coverage revolves around about the 16-year-old climate icon Greta Thunberg and the best-known CO2 polluters. Thereby the role of the digital industry is often forgotten, although due to the ongoing cloudisation
There is a need for action. Studies show: Without the right measures from politics and business the national and global climate targets cannot be achieved.

During the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in New York (21-23 September), the heads of state and government - aided by spokesperson and climate activist Greta Thunberg - want to discuss the concrete measures of the Paris Agreement. The declared main goal of reducing the global temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius can only be achieved by reducing global CO2 emissions and, correlating with this, energy demand.

The digital market is growing rapidly ... and with it the CO 2 pollution

In the long term, the internet and telecommunication sector (ITC for short) also has a significant share in this: the increasing data tsunami and the falling costs of digital technology are ensuring strong industry growth. This increases energy consumption: according to estimates, the digital industry's share of global electricity consumption will grow from about 14 percent at present to 22.6 percent in 2025. In parallel, the electronics-related carbon footprint is also increasing: between 2013 and 2018, the contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions rose by about half, from 2.5 to 3.7 per cent; in 2025, it will be 7 per cent, according to the forecast - and the trend is rising.

In 2017, around 19 percent of ICT electricity consumption was generated by data processing in data centres, and this share is expected to rise to 30 percent by 2025. "German data centres currently consume about as much electricity as the city of Berlin, over 12 billion KWh per year," notes Dr Roman Bansen, IT Infrastructure Officer at Bitkom e. V.. Among other things, the continuing boom in cloud computing is responsible for the growth: data is increasingly being stored and processed in the digital cloud; by 2021, the volume of data in the cloud could more than double to 1.3 zettabytes. New technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, deep learning and autonomous driving systems as well as Big Data requirements are contributing to the trend. Due to the rising demand, the number of data centres will increase accordingly. Sustainable solutions for IT infrastructures appear all the more important in this context. Until now, the warm air from data centres has mainly been cooled artificially or released directly into the atmosphere.

Energy-efficient hardware and smart software

The Dresden-based green IT company Cloud&Heat recognised the problem a long time ago and relies on the use of water-cooled data centres worldwide. The highlight: thanks to the innovative hot water direct cooling, the waste heat from the servers can be reused to heat buildings or connected to district and local heating networks. In this way, for example, the data centre operated by Cloud&Heat in the Eurotheum high-rise building in Frankfurt saves up to 160,000 euros a year on building heating and server cooling and reduces CO 2 emissions by 557 tonnes a year,
which is roughly equivalent to the weight of an Airbus A380 or the storage capacity of 80 football fields of forest.

Cloud&Heat's holistic offering includes energy-efficient hardware and intelligent software. The company is currently working on a comprehensive solution for the energy optimisation of data centre networks. The software distributes computing jobs within a network to where their execution is most efficient. If metrics such as heat demand and power availability change during operation, the application is migrated within the system fully automatically. In the future, the carbon emissions of each computing job will also be recorded and issued to operators or users.

"Energy-efficient data centres are essential for climate protection".

"Demand for cloud services and new technologies with high storage and computing requirements continues to increase and, given the rapid growth of the entire IT sector, energy demand is also expected to continue to rise despite steady efficiency improvements," adds Bansen. "At the same time, there is a threat of a shortage in district heating supply if coal-fired power plants are to be shut down in this country and replaced by CO 2-free alternatives. Thus, for climate policy, energy-efficient data centres whose waste heat can be re-used are an essential factor to successfully shape the energy and heat transition."