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On-site Power Generation for Data Centers: Integrating Data Centers with Low Carbon Energy Assets

Our 'On-site Power Generation for Data Centers' Steering Group has worked hard on a Concept Paper which is now published.

Abstract

Power consumption is undeniably one of the cornerstones of any efforts toward a more sustainable future. We believe that a direct integration of data center infrastructure and renewable energy assets can open a great window of opportunity for all the industry players, while significantly boosting the industry’s sustainability metrics and revamping society’s perspective on the industry as a whole. Direct integration via on-site power production, decentralized renewable energy assets, or centralized Combined Heat and Compute (CHC) not only guarantees a physical delivery of green electrons to the data center, but also helps minimize the pressure on the grid and reduces the losses in the energy chain. Such an alternative is not without its challenges, such as intermittency, backup power, and cost, that need to be addressed.

This paper sheds light on the opportunities and challenges to the genuine decarbonization of data centers.

Read the full paper

Key takeaways

  • Data centers assets can help society decarbonize both the energy system and the digital economy, while facilitating the digitization of our economy. This is known as the “twin transitions”.
  • This paper outlines how data centers can start to consume real green energy, be it through the integration of data centers with decentralized renewable energy assets, on-site generation assets or centralized Combined Heat and Compute (CHC) assets. 
  • Why carbon off-setting and contracting renewable power is insufficient, and how only the direct consumption of locally generated green energy will help to decarbonize both the data center and the wider energy system.  
  • We should resolve the potential opportunities such as challenges, be they resource and energy efficiency gains, enhanced availability and resiliency, or the wider societal benefits of a decarbonized energy and digital system.
  • The paper outlines the challenges facing data center owners,  operators, and customers, to the integration of data centers with renewable and low carbon assets. Each mode of integration (on-site renewables, on-site storage, on-site scalable energy sources, electricity and heat grid integration) faces its own barriers. 
  • Focus our attention on the key technical and non-technical barriers to genuine sustainability in the data center.

As a precursor to our in-person workshop 'On-site Renewable Power Generation for Data Centers' to be held at Datacenter Forum Stockholm, we are hosting an Around the Alliance session live on LinkedIn on 16 November, 15:00 CET, where we also discuss our Concept Paper.

SDIA Physical Workshop Stockholm

Do you want to be a part of our Steering Groups? Then reach out to community@sdialliance.org.

Mohan Gandhi
Mohan Gandhi
Mohan leads the Innovation Lab Team and its project groups in their attempts to solve major technical barriers to a truly sustainable digital infrastructure. He Authored the Report "The Utility of the Future: Where Digital and Electrical infrastructure combine".

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