On 6 September, ALDE Party hosted, in collaboration with Microsoft, a Stakeholder Series event focused on data centres in the digital economy and reviewed what is being done to address their growing energy demands, expected to reach 3.2% of the EU’s total electricity demand by 2030.
Billy Kelleher MEP highlighted the complexity of this issue. He discussed the importance of data storage in the modern economy and the wider approaches required to ensure its sustainability.
“Data centres are the highways of the modern era. We have to accept that data centres are part and parcel of the modern economy.”
“We need a holistic view of the green deal and of this transition. We need to be pooling scarce resources. This winter will be a significant challenge. This isn't about scapegoats and simple solutions.”
Vlad-Marius Botos MEP discussed the importance of dialogue with industry when seeking solutions to address these growing challenges.
“What we need to do as legislators is to talk to the industry to try to understand the challenges and try to push for change. The industry must focus on energy efficiency.”
“Dialogue is the best way to move forward. We, the ALDE MEPs, are always open to dialogue”.
Nikolaos Kontinakis, European Commission Policy Officer, spoke of the progressive action being taken through learning from past historic growth.
“For us, energy is our core business. We won't make the mistakes of previous industrial revolutions, we will try to build as many data centres as we need but we will make sure that we are on a good footing.”
“Systemic approaches and integration are the answers”.
Jeremy Rollison, Senior Director for European Government Affairs at Microsoft, spoke about the environmental considerations for expanding data infrastructure and the commitments of this sector for sustainable action.
“In an industry that likes to move fast, you cannot move fast with building data centres. There are various considerations such as finding a proper piece of land and having the right infrastructure.”
“The water issue is going to become increasingly important, but it is reflected in our commitments and we will continue to honour them,” he added.
Vincenzo Conforti, ABB Head of EU Government Relations and Public Affairs, highlighted the importance of energy efficiency, and the expansive role of renewables in in circular energy systems which data centres can contribute too.
“Data centres are our clients and we are trying to help them reduce their consumption. It is challenging. This is an energy intensive sector, and it has the biggest potential to become a source of support for the community they operate in.”
“We are now trying to incentivize data centres to be more efficient, to support their local communities and to bring more renewables in,” he added.
The event was preceded by a networking breakfasts where panellists and the audience could mingle, and was followed by a lively Q&A section where both the moderator and the audience could put their questions to the panel. We look forward to hosting our next Stakeholder Series meeting soon. To stay up to date on the latest events in this series or if you would like to do your own series, please email [email protected]