ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC): A carbon-neutral future: Which companies are committing and delivering?

Jul 21, 2021 | Posted by MadalineDunn

In 2021, data centers are responsible for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of the entire airline industry worldwide. It has also been forecast that by 2025, data centers could consume up to one-fifth of Earth’s power.

Increasingly, data center companies are waking up to the fact that this path is unsustainable, and real change is required to tackle the climate emergency. There is now an industry-wide push towards carbon neutrality. This has led to the creation of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact in Europe, which now has 54 members and 22 associations as signatories.

Below are some of the companies that are making commitments to carbon neutrality in 2021, and some who have already delivered.

STT GDC's 2030 pledge


Through launching its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy, STT Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC) has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2030.

Currently, 43% of the company's electricity consumption is derived from zero-carbon renewable sources; however, it has expressed that it realises this is not enough.
 
The company is set to release its first ESG report later this year, which will outline its progress and reveal the impact of its more formalised and accelerated approach.

Amazon’s environmental targets


In 2019, Amazon co-founded the Climate Pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the business by 2040. It later renewed this pledge to achieve 100% carbon neutrality by 2025. 

According to the tech giant’s sustainability report, it’s on its way to achieving this, and by 2020, it had achieved 65% renewable energy across the board. 

Despite this progress, that’s not to say that Amazon’s path to sustainability is going to be straightforward. It has recently been embroiled in a controversy related to its plans to build a second data center in Drogheda. Environmental group An Taisce argues that construction on this facility will jeopardize Ireland's current environmental targets.

Scala Data Centers’ carbon neutral certification


Scala Data Centers is one of the data center companies in the industry pushing for a more sustainable future. It became the first Latin American data center company to go 100% renewable back in June and received carbon neutral certification for its Brazil facility. 

The company, founded by DigitalBridge, has now reached net-zero carbon emissions and has reduced its water consumption and improved its energy efficiency.

DEAC switches to 100% renewable energy


DEAC is another company that has delivered on its carbon-neutral commitments. In June 2021, the company implemented its ‘Green Business’ concept and announced that all of its data centers now use 100% renewable energy sourced from wind farms.

Along with the implementation of ESG principles, the Latvian data center company is also minimising its impact on the environment through increasing energy efficiency. This has been achieved through upgrading its cooling systems, adding chillers and creating a new cold-hot aisle solution in the server rooms.

CyrusOne - nine years ahead of target


For many, a 2030 deadline for carbon neutrality is much too far away. CyrusOne has addressed this head-on by delivering 100% renewable energy across its entire European portfolio nine years early.

A signatory of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, CyrusOne, prioritising sustainability, has dedicated water, habitat and energy conservation, and pledges to become a carbon-neutral operator by 2040.

So, while it’s not quite there yet, it’s currently making great progress. 

NEXTDC’s carbon neutrality


While sometimes sustainability and carbon-neutral pledges can be a form of greenwashing, NEXTDC is a data center operator that has truly delivered.

It has offset 100% of its own emissions and is also accredited as 100% carbon neutral by the Australian Federal Government’s Climate Active program. Alongside this, it also launched its carbon-neutral colocation solution, NEXTneutral, back in March 2021 and is investing in renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

Microsoft releases sustainability commitment


Microsoft is another titan of industry making big promises when it comes to sustainability. It recently pledged that all of its data centers will be run carbon-neutral by 2030.

In a recently published company blog, it explained its long-term vision, which it refers to as 100/100/0. This vision looks towards a future where on all the world’s grids, “100% of electrons, 100% of the time, are generated from zero-carbon sources”. 

The company notes that this vision is only possible with a  joint effort across the industry and beyond. As a result, Microsoft announced its own commitment to the 100/100/0 vision, where, by 2030, Microsoft will have 100% of its electricity consumption, 100% of the time, matched by zero-carbon energy purchases.

Final thoughts


While many data center companies are making promises, and some have already delivered on their sustainability and carbon-neutral pledges, there is still a long way to go. 

Research shows that data centers will be one of the world’s biggest polluters in just a few short years without significant and sustained investment in renewable energy.

Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, and pacts like it, are a step in the right direction; after all, a collective effort is required to instil real change. That said, data center companies must make good on their promises in the next few years to ensure that carbon-neutral pledges are more than just pleasant soundbites. 

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