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Navigating the New Norm: Germany’s Energy Efficiency Act in Data Centers

Blog // January 11, 2024

As the digital landscape expands, so does the energy footprint of data centers. In this era of rapid technological advancement, Germany’s recent passage of the Energy Efficiency Act has sparked a wave of discussions, presenting a unique opportunity for us at etalytics to redefine benchmarks for sustainable and energy-efficient data center operations.

Understanding the Energy Efficiency Act

The Energieeffizienzgesetz, or Energy Efficiency Act, responds to the growing energy consumption of data centers, which contribute significantly to the nation’s power grid with an annual electricity consumption of about 16 billion kWh (source: bitkom). Aligned with European and national goals of reducing energy consumption by 30% by 2030 and 50% by 2050, the legislation introduces ambitious targets. Let’s delve into a few key obligations.

One of the primary focuses is on the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), a critical indicator of a data center’s energy performance. The Energy Efficiency Act introduces precise PUE limits for data centers. For those commencing operations after July 1, 2026, a PUE value of ≤ 1.3 must be achieved within two years of operation. Existing data centers, operational before this date, are mandated to attain a PUE value of 1.5 by July 1, 2027, and further reduce it to 1.3 by July 1, 2030.

Beyond PUE, the Energy Efficiency Act tackles the issue of waste heat – a byproduct of data processing that often goes unused. It requires data centers to actively reduce waste heat and integrate reused energy into heat networks. For data centers with a capacity of 1 MW or more starting operations after July 1, 2026, a minimum of 10% reused energy is mandated, increasing to 15% when operations are starting after July 1, 2027 and 20% when starting after July 1, 2028. Collaborating with local heat network providers becomes crucial, fostering a sustainable and circular approach to waste heat management.

In a bid to align with Germany’s commitment to renewable energy, the Energy Efficiency Act mandates German data centers to procure 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2024, increasing to 100% by 2027. This marks a significant shift towards greener practices within the industry.

The legislation furthermore requires the implementation of energy and environmental management systems. According to the Energy Efficiency Act, data center operators are obligated to introduce these systems by July 1, 2025. They involve continuous measurement of electrical power and energy demand, coupled with the implementation of measures that tangibly enhance the energy efficiency of data centers. The overarching goal of this management system is to create transparency and reveal existing energy efficiency potentials, facilitating the planning of corresponding measures.

Section 13 of the Energy Efficiency Act mandates data center operators to annually submit detailed information about their operations to the federal government.

Furthermore, the establishment of an energy efficiency register marks a significant stride towards data center accountability. This registry will centralize information about data centers, making it accessible to the public. It aligns with the broader trend of promoting transparency and sustainability in the industry.

The Road Ahead: Facing the Challenges

Data center operators now grapple with a complex landscape of challenges. Within these challenges, however, lie opportunities for innovation and sustainability. As the industry evolves, proactive measures in facility design, technology integration, and operational strategies will be key to success.

Amidst these regulatory shifts, etalytics is stepping up to the challenge, offering innovative solutions to streamline compliance and enhance energy efficiency. In the face of change, collaboration and innovation become the cornerstones for a resilient and sustainable data center landscape.

Mastering Change with etalytics' Solutions

At etalytics, we leverage innovative AI-supported operational optimization to significantly reduce Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and enhance the efficient operation of cooling systems. Through intelligent management of energy consumption and cooling processes, our solutions ensure data centers achieve optimal performance while adhering to stringent regulatory standards. Going beyond conventional approaches, our AI solutions excel in optimizing the extraction of heat – a pivotal factor in waste heat management.

We empower data center operators with unparalleled transparency in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Through the provision of advanced monitoring systems and intuitive dashboards, our technology facilitates comprehensive ESG reporting, enabling our clients in demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

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