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Start Campus Sets Industry Standards for Environmental Sustainability

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Investment in data centers has grown exponentially since 2013. Despite the increased investment, demand and data consumption are outweighing the available infrastructure to support growth. As a result, data center companies are trying to keep pace with such demand by increasing capacity and new facilities while understanding that innovative power and energy solutions need to be prioritized and implemented to mitigate the impact on local and global ecology.

IMAGE 1 – Data center energy forecast: ScienceDirect simulates the data centers’ energy consumption for the period 2016–2030 with the model of image 1 and assumes that future technological and behavioral trends are maintained.

Countries and local communities are increasingly aware of renewable energy, putting pressure on businesses to use clean resources. Although global internet traffic has increased 15-fold since 2010, the energy used in data centers remains relatively unchanged. A 2022 S&P Global survey states that European enterprises cited on average a PUE of 2.1, while most cloud datacenters aim for an average PUE of 1.3-1.4 or lower, and leased datacenters can be anywhere in between.

Gartner, a global leading analyst firm, predicted that by 2025, without sustainable practices, AI alone will consume more energy than the human workforce, significantly offsetting carbon-zero gains. If this prediction comes true, data center operators will become a driving force for solving sustainability problems across the globe. However, solutions are a challenge.  For instance, renewable energy is in high demand but not in high supply, especially when trying to implement 24×7 green computing solutions.  One type of renewable, solar power, is great at the right angle, latitude, and the right sphere.

Solar power in Alaska, for instance, is not as effective or reliable as solar power in Hawaii simply due to the geographic locations and the natural tilt of the earth. The lack of sunshine is overcome with an abundance of batteries to store as much energy as possible during sunny periods to make up for the night, shade, and other natural barriers like snow.  Renewables are vast, however, and picking the right renewable is not the same in one location as another.

Beyond solar, there are a vast array of renewable energy solutions. These include the use of geothermal, wind, and hydrogen to power data center facilities. And the trend today focuses on generating power directly on-site at the data center location via microgrids.

The EU Green Deal proposes that Europe becomes a carbon-neutral continent by 2050. In addition, over 60 companies have signed the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact in which they pledge to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 targeting five areas: clean energy, energy efficiency, water, circular economy, and circular energy systems.

Due to the heightened awareness and the industry’s commitment to meeting or exceeding global sustainable standards, data centers in communities such as Sines, Portugal, are being built to achieve green data center credentials while proving to be excellent environmental stewards.

Start Campus, the company responsible for the development of 100% green energy data center ecosystems, is offering the necessary action and transparency required to set and elevate industry standards around environmental sustainability on a local, national, and global scale.

Start Campus’s SINES Project is the very first 100% sustainable and 24×7 renewable energy data center campus, currently under development. The data center campus is set to reach carbon-neutral operations by 2025 and to be fully carbon-neutral by 2028. Currently, SINES Project has a PUE of 1.1 and a Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) of 0 via the campus’s multiple renewable energy solutions and its innovative reclaimed ocean water cooling solution.

In October 2022, Start Campus announced it joined the iMasons Climate Accord, a coalition united on carbon reduction in digital infrastructure. Start Campus joined Amazon Web Services, Google, Meta, and Microsoft among others in the effort to drive the reduction of carbon within the digital infrastructure sector, and enforce industry-wide sustainability standards and transparency.

Having launched in 2020, Start Campus has sprung into action to elevate industry-wide sustainable standards and has only just begun! To learn more about what Start Campus is doing around environmental sustainability, visit https://www.startcampus.pt/.

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