Schneider Electric thinks the data centre industry has a bit of a PR problem, and at a recent event in London, the company outlined its plans to help fix it.
It’s fair to say that Schneider Electric has made quite an accurate assessment as to the data centre industry’s appalling public image. Just look at any mainstream news publication and you’ll see the vitriol often thrown at the industry – with a recent article from The Telegraph noting that the data centre industry was more damaging to the environment than airlines.
However, while the data centre industry may currently have a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry, it’s also much easier to decarbonise – and while it may not be as vocal about its efforts, it’s certainly making progress.
That’s why Schneider Electric wants to fight back. It wants to take back control of the messaging and ensure that the world knows that the data centre industry is doing everything it can to be more environmentally responsible.
Except it has quite the fight on its hands. The company’s own research has revealed that many data centres are delaying their carbon reduction plans due to the ongoing energy crisis, while a recent report from Stand.earth has criticised many big tech companies for exaggerating their environmental claims.
Much of the criticism levied at the data centre industry also comes in the form of energy use, which shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, with the growth of AI, it’s likely that the data centre sector could continue to see its energy usage tick ever upwards.
This outsized demand on the electricity grid is what led to EirGrid introducing an effective ban on the development of new data centre facilities in Dublin until at least 2028, and while the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft are leading the world in funding the development of renewable energy infrastructure, it’s also true that the grid infrastructure required to carry this new clean energy is woefully inadequate.
Schneider Electric’s plans to fix the industry’s PR problem
So, we already know the task at hand, but what exactly does Schneider Electric plan to do to address the PR problem? It wants to start engaging with the public to ensure that areas where the data centre industry is succeeding are properly showcased.
It has already highlighted areas where technology is having a huge impact on the environmental credentials of data centres. For example, a partnership between Schneider Electric and Total Power Solutions saw a university data centre’s Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) drop from 1.42 to 1.37, thereby lowering energy consumption and costs.
Additionally, the company collaborated with the University of Birmingham Dubai to create a data centre that maximises energy efficiency, purportedly offering energy savings of up to 15% while operating at peak performance.
Arguably Schneider Electric’s biggest win will come from engaging with the industry to encourage further decarbonisation – something Schneider Electric is trying to do with what it calls the ‘Thursday Club’. However, this also risks turning the problem into Schneider Electric and its partners vs the rest of the industry.
The truth is, without the whole industry being actively engaged in combating its bad PR and making substantive steps to addressing its environmental problems, nothing is going to make the situation any better.
Our sister publication, Data Centre Review, is planning on addressing this very topic at the upcoming Critical Insight virtual event, which is set to take place November 28 – 30, 2023. You can find out more about what to expect from Critical Insight 2023 and what’s on the agenda over on the event’s website.