Intel menu +
×

Yondr Intel  /  Developments  /  Energy drain or dream? Additionality and the power potential of data centers

Energy drain or dream? Additionality and the power potential of data centers

Written by: Paul Dillon / at Yondr

Energy drain or dream? Additionality and the power potential of data centers

Written by: Paul Dillon / at Yondr

Data centers are power-hungry facilities that can place high demands on the infrastructure of the countries in which they are located. The concept of additionality gives the data center industry an opportunity to drive the renewable energy sector forwards and benefit everyone.

Data centers are the physical backbone of the digital economy. They are also enormous power users. While increases in efficiency have offset growth in internet traffic in recent years, data centers are still responsible for roughly 1% of global electricity use – a figure set to rise to 8% by 2030.

Hyperscale data center users like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft alone are responsible for almost half of this. This demand is not distributed evenly over the world.  By 2028 data centres and other large users will consume 29 percent of Ireland’s electricity. The Municipality of Amsterdam, another major data center hub, placed a moratorium on new construction last year (now lifted) citing the load on the electricity grid.  

The popular perception is that these tech giants are net takers from the local economy, national infrastructure, and global environment. Traditionally, apart from data centre facilities with easy access to hydroelectric sources, data centers were very rarely powered directly by renewable energy. Instead, they claimed to use renewable power, through the use of renewable energy/guarantee of origin certificates and power purchase agreements.   This meant they paid a small premium to earmark existing renewable electricity projects for their own use.  While the tech company gained a boost to their CSR image, those renewable sources were typically funded with consumer subsidies and were already in operation. The buyer was really just paying for the right to be able to say they were using green power. Critics argued that it was little more than greenwashing.

This is now changing with the increased focus on “additionality”.  There is no strict definition for additionality, it is a term that describes renewable energy generation that is truly new – i.e. additional.   It is used to describe when an organisation’s corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) has the direct effect of adding new renewable energy generation to the grid; i.e.without the organisation’s involvement (via the CPPA) the clean energy project would not have happened.   

Driven by this appetite for “Additionality ” hyperscale data centre users are now responsible for financially supporting new, expanding, or developing renewable generation sources, as opposed to buying into what is already available or planned.   This is  typically structured by the hyperscale data centre purchasing electricity directly from the generator through Corporate Power Purchase Agreements, or CPPAs.  CPPAs are long-term contracts whereby a company agrees to purchase electricity directly from a renewable energy generator. They typically run for a period of around 10-15 years.      

The fact that this is a direct and long-term agreement has very significant implications. The data center owner has cost certainty for the duration of the contract. And, critically, so does the supplier.  That means it is commercially viable for them to develop entirely new renewable power installations.  This is the core concept of Additionality: those sources of energy would not have been financed and installed without the client and the CPPA.  Crucially, the new power plants are developed without any public funds or subsidies by regular consumers

How data centers can drive the move to a low-carbon economy
As large power consumers with long-term needs, data centers and their owners are in an ideal position to stimulate innovation in the renewable energy sector.  The benefits of this go far beyond environmental concerns or CSR. Additionality has the potential to flip the existing situation on its head. Instead of being a drain on an economy and national infrastructure, data center owners can become net contributors of clean power.

At times of peak output, when the new facilities are generating more power than the data centers need, they can sell it into the national grid – reducing the country’s overall reliance on carbon fuels, as well as spearheading new research and development.

As clean energy technology progresses, tech companies will find more and more ways of using it. In some countries, data centers already have rooftop solar panels installed. As battery technology improves, we will see greater direct use of renewables by data centers, with less reliance on the national grid.

For now, data centers are at a watershed moment. Far from being a net drain on local and national infrastructure and environment, they have a unique opportunity to fund new renewable projects and help countries increase the pace of transition to the low-carbon economy of the future. 

Seamless data center project delivery starts with a health and safety mindset
There’s one question every client asks us before starting a project: Why should we choose you over the competition? Here’s how we answer that: At Yondr, our speed to delivery is lightning quick. We have extensive in-house capabilities. We’re home to some of the most skilled and experienced people in the industry. 
Slough: the land for the hyperscalers
Yondr has secured one of the largest hyperscale sites with full power availability in Slough. The entitled multi-building, single data center campus beside the M25 will deliver over 100MW of critical IT capacity over a significant plot of prime real estate.
Y-Suite takeover: Max Elswood from Turner & Townsend
This episode host Louise Donkor spoke to Max Elswood, an Associate Director at Turner & Townsend
The right way to approach virtual deals
And there it is! The perfect spot. You could point to it on a map. That’s where we’ll build your data center. If only it were as easy as that...
Yondr’s framework for failsafe security
Data centers are now part of our critical infrastructure. They are integral to the daily operations of government, business and society at large, as important to our lives as energy and water supply.
The future of data center talent pools
The dramatic growth of the data center market in recent years certainly caught many of us off guard. We may have foreseen an increase in demand but the exact rate of growth is staggering. 
The events that transformed the DC industry
At the beginning of the century, data storage was an analogue affair. Photo albums contained precious memories, a ringbinder held monthly bank statements, and when the boss asked you to share a document with him, you’d navigate to the office filing cabinet for a paper copy.
International Women’s Day 2021 | Pip Hare
We are bowing down to our queen of the seas, Pip Hare for a special International Women’s Day episode of The Yondr Podcast.
The democratisation of tech holds the answers to one of our industry’s biggest challenges
The democratisation of tech is opening up the data center market - an industry once reserved for highly skilled specialists - and making it accessible to more people than ever before.
Y-Suite takeover: Sergio Pereira from Rellium
Host Athina Koligkioni speaks to European Operations Director, Sergio Pereira from cabling specialist company, Rellium. They chat about Sergio’s start in the industry, and his take on the future of data.
Simple saves you money. Why Yondr champions simplicity in engineering
Easing the smooth, silver surface out of its snug cardboard container, you carefully place it on your desk...
The city is calling. Can data centers compete?
Like a two-month-old pup demanding devotion, our data needs are constant and evolving.
Setting sail: The astonishing skill and strength of character needed to compete in a solo race around the world
Yondr is sponsoring sailor Pip Hare to compete in the Vendée Globe race, one of the world’s toughest endurance events. We asked Pip to share her story as she enters her final weeks of training for what promises to be an incredible journey. Over to you Pip!
DCD Singapore 2019 day two
We're back again for day two at DCD Singapore. Join our Chief Development Officer, Pete Jones, as he talks to special guests Ben Freedman from the MLM Group, and Dan Kennedy at Tate Inc. The Yondr team also give their one line summaries of the event.
PTC’20; Hiring diversity, company expansion and the year ahead
Live from PTC'20, Yondr's CDO, Pete Jones, discusses focus on hiring diversity, company expansion and the year ahead
Peter Jones, talks European data center market with DatacenterHawk
Yondr’s CDO, Pete Jones, sits down with David from DatacenterHawk, to share thoughts on the data center market in Europe.
From apprentice to global operations director — how an apprenticeship changed my life
Born and raised in London’s East End, I definitely wasn’t the smartest kid. I applied for 50-odd positions and was granted three interviews, one of which was for a technician’s apprenticeship with the Post Office.
Critical spaces from scratch in a year – how Yondr does it
There’s no such thing as being a single moment late. If a data center isn’t completed on time, it will be delayed for months or there will be serious consequences for other projects no amount of money can fix. 
The evolution of data centers / data center development across the decades
The phenomenon of the data center has played its full part in creating the interconnected and smaller world that we now find ourselves in. Data centers have a history going back to the mid-1940s when the first specially created computer rooms housed large military machines that were set to work on specific data tasks. 
Who will teach the data center talent of the future?
The data center industry has grown exponentially over the last ten years and it shows no signs of slowing down. Quite the opposite in fact. By 2027 the market is estimated to reach almost $90 billion. 
Pip Hare and Hannah Ormondroyd in partnership with iMasons
This episode it's Yondr's Marketing Communications Manager, Louise Donkor who speaks to ocean racing extraordinaire, Pip Hare and chair of the iMason's diversity and inclusion committee, Hannah Ormondroyd.
A different approach
Now, we all know there’s nothing sexy about data center operations. And you only hear about operations when something goes horribly wrong. So as we manoeuvre through the pandemic, whatever the crisis throws at us, we know any new processes and procedures we introduce need to remain simple. 
The pace of hybrid adoption
The paper sets out the very clear and compelling case for hybrid cloud adoption and recommends how companies and teams need to evolve to get their decision making right, choosing which workloads to put where, when the fork in the road arrives.
What clients are asking now
We are now several weeks into COVID-19 lockdown measures. The initial wave of enforced changes to work and living routines is behind us, and the world is slowly adjusting to the idea that we’re in this for the long haul.
My first 30 days of COVID-19
It was a fast decision made by the senior leadership team on the day, based on the facts we had. We pushed it out via all our internal channels. We recorded a video explaining the decision, sent everyone an email, published blog posts and sent SMS messages, so everyone knew. With 20/20 hindsight, I’m glad we did.
Pacific Telecommunications Council day two
It's day two of the Pacific Telecommunications Council conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Pete Jones speaks to Chris Bair from Stream Datacenters on the Americas and listens to thoughts from Oliver Jones from Chayora on the data center market in China.
PTC 2020 Honolulu
Yondr attended the Pacific Telecommunications Council in Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time this year. As venues go, this was one we were quite excited by!
Pacific Telecommunications Council
Pete Jones interviews Gerard Thibault, Chief Technical Officer at KAO Data. Gerard shares his views on the conference’s themes, industry trends and how they relate to the practical world of data center design and delivery.
Infrastructure Masons and DCD Dallas
Join our CDO Pete Jones for an interview with Simon Allen, Executive Director at Infrastructure Masons. They caught up during some downtime at last October's Data Center Dynamics in Dallas. Listen on for discussions on Simon's unique data center insights, workforce, technical innovations and the future of the industry.
DICE Local – data center investment conference
Infrastructure investors are in part expanding their scope to support the sector, but not in full. This is proposed as being owed to infrastructure such as roads, tunnels and bridges with “tolls” going one way...in data centers, we typically pay penalties for poor performance.
Microsoft’s take on health and safety
Just out of a great session at DCD Dallas by Doug Mouton of Microsoft that was short, sweet and undeniably compelling. 
World Mental Health Day
Listen to our latest podcast to hear from our Head of Health and Safety, Gareth Evans, discuss mental health in his role at Yondr with Pete Jones, and Matt Roche recaps on the recent Mental Health First Aid training Yondr employees received with Commercial Manager, Natalie Stanton and psychologist Olivia Conneely.
Quantity Surveying 101 with Linesight
Yondr's CDO, Pete Jones, caught up with Gavin Flynn, Program Director at Linesight in San Francisco, to chat all things quantity surveying.
Real estate change…does it have to be hard?
Picking up a copy of the FT while travelling back from Asia last week, I was struck by the notion of the editor. To secure the front and back pages, and inside cover with an announcement that our system and markets need to change deeply resonated with me.
DCD Singapore: Yondr’s first foray in Asia
Having just returned from a week in Singapore I am now taking stock of the talks, meetings and people I met over the last few days.
DCD Singapore – sustainable data centers
The provision of a recognised scoring system for data centers (such as LEED) could be a ‘powerful’ (very poor pun) addition to our sector. We as developers, operators, builders and tenants must embrace such initiatives.
DCD Singapore 2019
This Yondr Podcast comes to you from the Data Center Dynamics conference in Singapore. Join Pete, Matt, Andy and others to discuss the event's hottest topics.
Microsoft’s take on energy
Ever wondered how hyperscale end users see the energy world? I was lucky today to get some great insights today from Jim Collins at Microsoft during his fireside chat at DCD San Francisco.

Like what you see?

Don’t miss out on future Intel. Sign up now to receive our latest content straight to your inbox.