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A wind farm in Adrian, Texas Paul Harris/Getty Images
A wind farm in Adrian, Texas

A Truly Sustainable Data Center Industry Will Require Regulation

The Data Center Podcast: Ed Ansett, of i3 Solutions, says business drivers alone won’t be enough.

Companies big and small can roll out sweeping sustainability initiatives, their executives can make big statements to the press about bold corporate action to reduce their businesses’ impact on the environment, but at the end of the day, the drivers that move business to act on climate change will not be enough. That’s true for data center operators as much as it’s true for any other company, whose main goal – to be profitable – is in conflict with the added cost of sustainability.

What does move the needle on climate change is regulation, and while some industries, primarily energy and automotive, have seen new sustainability rules imposed on them (to varying degrees around the world), the data center industry has not.

This is the theme of the latest episode of The Data Center Podcast, in which we interview Ed Ansett, a long-time data center engineering and business executive who’s been outspoken on the data center industry’s impact on climate change. He’s consulted governments on how to approach the complex relationship between the data center sector and climate, where on the one hand, you have one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of energy consumption, and on the other the climate benefits of digital transformation the sector supports – things like reducing the need for travel, for example, or replacing paper documents with digital ones.

On the podcast, we talk about:

  • Data center sustainability
  • The recently formed EU Green Data Center Pact
  • Regulating data centers to reduce the industry's impact on climate change
  • The most promising technologies for improving data center sustainability

Ansett argues that regulation is necessary if the data center industry were to make a difference in the trajectory of climate change.

“Some of the things that we need to do from a sustainability perspective are going to cost more money,” he said. There are some areas where a sustainable approach is more economical than a traditional one. “To some extent it’s true, but for the most part, it’s not.

“For sustainability to work in the environment that we’re in, there has to be an economic upside as well,” he continued. “And if the economic upside isn’t’ there, I’m quite convinced that the shareholders of the various companies involved are not going to be too happy about eroding their profits by introducing more and more sustainable measures. I just don’t see how that’s going to work, unless it’s mandated.”

Listen to our interview with Ed Ansett, of i3 Solutions, in full on The Data Center Podcast. (Stream below or find it anywhere podcasts live: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, ...)

Transcript: Ed Ansett, of i3 Solutions, on The Data Center Podcast

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Hey everybody. Welcome to the Data Center Podcast. I am Yevgeniy, editor in chief of Data Center Knowledge. We have with us today Ed Ansett. He is founder and chairman at i3 Solutions. i3, is a consulting engineering firms, specializing in Data Centers. Ed does a lot of work in the area of Data Center energy efficiency, and the impact the industry has in climate change. As an issue, he's been very outspoken about, as regular DCK's readers are probably aware. Which, is the reason we have him here today. And, thank you so much for joining us.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Thanks, Yevgeniy. Good to be here.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

I want to start with a bit of a news peg. You guys made a partnership with EYP, which is another consulting design engineering firm. Also, specializing in data centers. It's about gas... greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. Two data center, mechanical, electrical, consulting engineering firms, partnering on the greenhouse gas reduction initiative. What is that all about?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I guess it's a couple of things. Firstly, obviously the more people we get involved in this, [inaudible 00:01:06] individual areas of expertise. The likely outcome is going to be enhanced in terms of the quality of what we're doing. But, I think it's... It was mainly driven by the fact that both companies have a long history of working together, one way or another over the years. As, you may remember, I was with EYP for a number of years in Europe. And, we all know each other and it just made sense to get everyone back together again for this initiative. I mean, a very few people dispute the effects of the impact that climate change is having. And, I think even fewer people would argue that Data Centers have a significant impact in terms of carbon footprint.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

So, it's really a question of taking a look at the various technology options that are out there, and, trying to provide some objective advice. And, non-biased, impartial advice and understand which technologies are most appropriate for a particular use case. Well, that can depend on lots of different factors. It can depend on the country you're in and the emission factor in that country can depend on climate. So, it can depend on a whole number of factors. So, we're kind of looking at the various technologies and trying to provide some useful information to the Data Center Community at all levels. To help them make decisions as they go about their own carbon or de-carbonization program. That's really what it's about. It's kind of trying to demystify a lot of the information inside that. Because, I think people were quite confused.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

You kind... You sort of emphasized unbiased. What did mean there? Why is that important?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I mean, as consulting engineers, we have... We are, and always will be, [inaudible 00:03:08] product buyers. So, we don't look in a particular product with any vested interest. We just look at each product objectively based on its various merits and look at it that way. So, we don't... We're not biased one way or another to any particular technology or approach.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Are these going to be consulting engagements, with specific clients by the two firms. Or, is this more of a, "We're going to put together a lot of useful information and put it out there for the industry to use?"

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

But, it's really, the [inaudible 00:03:40]. Is a question of doing the right thing and putting this informant... getting this information together and putting it out there. Yeah, we have engagements. Both companies have got engagements, involving various, different, low carbon technologies. But, it's not about that. And, it's really trying to make sense of everything, getting the information out there. And, if people want to speak to us with a... And, speak to i3, or EYP, and even get some better insight. Then, [inaudible 00:04:08] happen. But, the overarching objective is to clarify the situation, to the extent that we possibly can. In the context of the Data Center sector.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Data Centers represent, a relatively, small portion of global energy consumption, about 1% in 2018. Which is kind of the latest estimate we have by the U.S department of energy. Yet, Data Center capacity is growing, quite rapidly. One of the recent analyst estimates, by structure research is 2000 megawatts, on average. Annually, will be added between 2020 and 2025. So, naturally the best way to go about it, is to ensure whatever new capacity does come online, doesn't add to the problem of climate change. Is that what's happening?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Yeah. I mean, the reality is this, that any time you build a Data Center. Any, Data Center, you're going to be increasingly carbon footprint, [inaudible 00:05:04]. It's just physically impossible not to do that. The issue is, how can you do it in the most effective way, from a sustainability perspective? What's the... What are the bright approaches? What is the... What are some of the lowest carbon footprint? And, for this to make sense, it's going to have to be done in a way which works financially, for both sides.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

And, I think maybe you were going to talk to me about regulation later on. But, factually for this to work, particularly, at wholesale and co-location Data Center level, there has to be some financial benefit. And, there's some conflict there.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

What is that conflict?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Well, principally, in some of the things that we need to do from a sustainability perspective, we're going to cost more money. Some of the technologies are going to be more expensive than the traditional technologies that we're using. So, how's that going work? Or, what's the imperative?, What's the driver, for these companies, to adopt low carbon technologies, if it's going to be more expensive? But, that's not always true. And, a lot of people will tell you, "Oh, you can do this and you can save money by being sustainable." And, that to some extent is true. But, for the most part, it's not. So, that's the conflict.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

So, basically it's more expensive to build sustainably than, not, at least in the short term.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Yeah, most definitely. I mean, as I say, [inaudible 00:06:30] speaking very broadly. But, [inaudible 00:06:31] case. Yeah.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Barriers to carbon net zero Data Centers are... There's many different ones, right? There are regulatory, technological, economical, as you just mentioned political. That's a lot of barriers to overcome. Maybe let's start with politics. I feel like the needle has moved in the right direction. We don't hear the climate skeptic view quite as much as we used to, even a few years ago. It feels like at least the reality of climate change is basically acknowledged by the, sort of dominant political classes. Is that how you see it?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Yeah. I think [inaudible 00:07:09] not going to talk about the United States. But, it's obvious that, the politics there have changed for the better, from a sustainability point of view. Europe... Because, I think sometimes it's understood that something needs to be done. So, there's this growing political consensus across the world. With, very few exceptions, that something has to be done from a sustainability perspective across the board, not just data centers of course, but across the board. So, I think the political landscape, is far more favorable than it has been in the past.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, you spent a lot of time in Asia as well. Right? Is that what you're seeing there as well?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Well, pre COVID. Yes. [crosstalk 00:07:52]. I [inaudible 00:07:54], unfortunately for a while. [inaudible 00:07:55] things are a little bit different there. Because, you have to remember in Asia [inaudible 00:08:00]... Although, there's some highly developed economies in Asia, there are also some developing economy since. And, therefore the landscape is different politically, particularly in developing economies. But, I think even so across the board, virtually every country now is. Every major economy is signed up to the Paris climate agreement. So, I think it's at least on paper, fair to say, the vast majority of the economy. So, are going in the right direction, at least in terms of their intention to reduce that... decarbonize, reduce that carbon footprint.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, of course it's not enough to agree that climate change is real, and, it's good to agree. Because, for a long time, as we've just mentioned, has been a struggle, for everybody to kind of agree that it's the thing that's happening. You have to also agree on what to do about it obviously. And, that's where political consensus sort of slams against a very hard wall of immediate economic needs.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Exactly-

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

So, we have-

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

That's exactly right. Yeah.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, we have the energy industry, putting pressure on governments through both lobbying, as well as the real fear by constituents of losing their livelihoods, when fossil fuels are phased out. At the same time, politicians feel pressure from the younger generations, who are saying, "Look, we have to live with this and time is running out. So we have to do something big and you have to do it now." And, slowly but surely it is having an effect in the form of regulatory action, which hasn't really affected the data center sector in a meaningful way, at least not yet. Do you think that's going to change?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I hope it does. I really do hope it does. Because, it is... If, we're serious about sustainability, then we can't leave it purely to Goodwill. It's too important. And, whilst there are some great initiatives going around, and for example, the climate [inaudible 00:10:03] in Europe, that's great. But, we can't leave it to chance. We can't rely on the Goodwill of organizations to get us up, when we do need government intervention.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, that's because?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Well, if it's not mandated, what's to say it's going to happen?

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Right. There has to be... Well, there has to be really strong economic drivers, which are a fickle, thing.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

And, we just briefly touched on that earlier. The economic drivers, they are there in part, but there's some pain as well. So, if it's mandated and if it's ideally [inaudible 00:10:43] universally mandated, it sets a level playing field, then we can be sure that action will be taken. But, if it's purely voluntary and, it's... I commend the voluntary efforts. But, it's far too serious, far too important to leave it truly purely to Goodwill.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, the largest Data Center operators, have started getting increasingly proactive about renewable energy. And, the drivers behind that are pretty complex. The efforts to date, have focused most on balancing out dirty energy consumption with purchases of equal amounts of renewable energy. The hyperscalers, starting with Google, have led the way. And, now the big Data Center providers seeing that their biggest customers want sustainable infrastructure and importantly, investors being more mindful of these things have also started investing more in renewables. Do you think the providers are doing enough and quickly enough?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I think that's a broad question. But, I would say this in terms of carbon offsetting and buying renewables, are two different things, of course, but, related. Simply buying existing renewables that are on the grid, does not improve the carbon decarbonization situation at all. It doesn't. The only way you improve decarbonization, is by adding renewables to the grid, or by adding low carbon generation to the Data Centers. So, if you're just going out, buying renewable energy, even in the United States, where I understand there are three grids. All that does is, [inaudible 00:12:23], one grid dirtier, and another one cleaner.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

So, it really [inaudible 00:12:31] to happen is at a much higher level from a generation point of view, is we need to see more renewable sources on the grid and that in itself presents some technical problems. And, the other thing that can be done is low carbon generation at the Data Center. Which is where I think a major opportunity lies for the data center community and where there are good investment opportunities. And, I say that's a real... A very probable road that the industry will go down.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

It seems at least the biggest operators, hyperscalers and the bigger Data Center providers. Digital Realty's and Equinoxes of the world, they are mindful of this additionality aspect. So, when they do announce renewable energy investments, it's usually... it's... They're usually investing in additional generation. Not always on the same grid as their data centers that are being built. And, even if they are on the same grid, that grid, it would steal local grid. We'd still have a lot of dirty power in the mix. So... And, I'm sure it helps, but it doesn't make them neutral, right? It doesn't make them carbon neutral. As, you mentioned that you can't right now... You cannot build a data center, that's carbon neutral.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I commend again, organizations that are buying renewable energy, but you have to look at... If, you really care about this, you have to look at the big patrons say, "Well, how did that move the needle, from a national carbon footprint perspective?" And I say it, again, if you're buying renewable energy from the grid, and you're not buying new, renewable energy, that's being introduced to the grid. There is no net effects, in terms of carbon footprint. It just means somebody else's [inaudible 00:14:30].

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

The hyperscalers as big as the center developers, they strive to switch to renewable energy. The hyperscalers have their goals, recently, stated goals. At least, I think Microsoft and Google did, of removing actually as much carbon from the atmosphere as they've ever produced. As, a result of their operations. I mean, that's hard and complicated to change. It's also difficult to change local regulations, energy market design, there are all kinds of things that make that difficult. So, let's talk about something easier to control for private businesses' technology. What's the lowest hanging fruit for operators in terms of neutralizing their impact on climate change? I know you mentioned a local generation.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Well, there's a lot of things that can be done relatively, easily. I mean, one of the things to consider, is that we've got a lot of legacy data center stock that was built, since, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. From a... Again, from a sustainability [inaudible 00:15:33] perspective. It's generally going to be a thought preferable to reuse and repurpose an existing building than to build a new one. Generally speaking. So, in other words, the reduced impact of embodied energy by building reuse is something that, I think many should be considered as a key factor. And, then we move into the other things that can be done. I mean, it's well documented things like, energy efficiency and we're talking at facilities level. Their energy facility and energy efficiency, using sustainable materials and to consider the whole kind of life cycle analysis of building construction.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

That's something, I think it's happening and we're going to see more and more of. And, then we really get into the nitty gritty, which is what we're doing from an energy source point of view. And, this is very country dependent, in terms of the solution. So, the solution you might apply, I don't know, say in the UK, would almost... it'd be different to the one that you would imply in say, India, or Indonesia, or Australia. Because, of the grid, emission factor variation that you've got across the world. You don't want to be introducing new technologies, albeit low carbon technologies that don't have an impact in terms of overall greenhouse gas abatement. So, you have to look at the grid emission factor, but the opportunity there around demand side response, exists in many countries. But, again, it is country specific, that all countries allow you to feed into the grid. Some do, some make it sound very appealing, some don't. So, it's a rather complex equation.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Can you explain, maybe give us a couple of examples. How has... If, a technological solution is effective for reducing a carbon emissions on the grid in a certain country. Why doesn't it apply in a different one?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Alright. So, if you take someone like Brazil. Okay, Brazil has got a relatively... Well, actually really low grid emission factor. When we look at generation. And, that's due to the high ratio, of hydro power present in Brazil. So, it probably doesn't make no sense to introduce gas reciprocating engines in Brazil, because the emission factor associated with gas reciprocating engines will be higher than the national grid emission factor. Then it goes to somewhere which is, relatively dirty, like Australia or Indonesia from the grid point of view. Well, then it does start to make sense, because the emission factor associated with the gas engines is considerably less than the national grid emission factor. So, it makes sense in one case, but it doesn't necessarily make sense in the another case.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, you mentioned earlier onsite generation is a big opportunity. What did you mean there? Can you explain?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

So, the energy sector as a whole, as developed as anything without completely outside of the data center industry. And, there's a increasing amount of embedded private, embedded generating systems that exist and various grids around the world, we can emulate that. The data center industry has an opportunity to emulate that, if it starts to think differently. At the moment, basically, what happens is the soundbite diesel generating set, which we use perhaps, a few hours a year. That's an expensive, largely stranded asset, which when it does run it's very dirty. And, the grid generally supplies pairing the [inaudible 00:19:12] in the event, liquid fails.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I think perhaps we need to turn this on its head. And, the opportunity is if, data centers are prepared to self-generate using low carbon technologies or introduce energy storage, large-scale battery energy storage. There are opportunities for the data center owners by exporting to the grid or by decoupling from the grid and [inaudible 00:19:35] to actually recoup some of their energy costs. And, it could be quite significant. And, that's that in that nutshell, is the major opportunity that presents itself from a revenue generation point of view.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, kind of working, using both, right? So, like a hybrid system, right? Having onsite generation and using the grid and then depending on where the need is for. Where you need a higher load, that's where the energy goes, that's being generated. I've seen... It seems... And, you mentioned large-scale battery storage. It seems that will be necessary, right? For onsite generation, because of renewables are, as we know intermittent.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Well, if you were to generating on site using gas, all right? I know, I don't think you need large-scale battery energy storage and that's your energy storage. I mean, I look at it slightly differently. I see battery energy storage from a grid interaction point of view, as being very useful, to support grid transients, under frequency events, voltage sex, and so on. Again, there are revenue generating opportunities there. Personally, I don't think at the moment the technologies access to, for batteries to replace standby generation.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

So, really there is definitely an opportunity for batteries in terms of providing short term, short energy bursts. But, maybe, even an hour or so, maybe more. But, not days, where they can explore it to the grid. Whereas with gas, whether that's gastros, deprecating engines or gas turbines, the opportunity exists to co-exist with the grid. You could even be the primary for the data center supply, to data center, primary energy from your gas system, perhaps exporting to the grid and have the grid as backup. It's just a question of looking at things differently because if you do, this can be also very significant sustainability benefits.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, then, so gas is itself, it's sustainability is controversial. Let's put it that way. Not everybody believes it's a fully sustainable fuel. So, yeah, it seems like you're on the pro gas side of that controversy.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

It's relative Yevgeniy. It's relative okay. So, it's not a question of what I believe or don't believe. You just look at the data. Okay. So, the fact of the matter is that, if, you've got a grid, which is heavy, but it's heavily based on coal and you introduce gas generation, the net effect is more sustainable than if you didn't. That's not a... That's not my opinion. That's just... It's just... That's a simple statement. It's not that I'm a big fan of gas. And, ultimately we probably will move to hydrogen. Okay. And, what we'll see in the meantime is we'll see natural gas being blended with hydrogen. Some countries are starting to do this. Ireland for example, is.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

I believe it's going to be introducing hydrogen into It's national grid, blended hydrogen. I don't know the full extent. I think it's 20% potentially, maybe 30% hydrogen into their existing network. As, I understand that there are some issues with many countries doing that. The age of the grid and gas leakage, the solar is a factor in some cases. But, I think eventually we will probably move to hydrogen, but we've got a long way to go. We're not ready as an industry to jump to hydrogen yet, but I think it's on the horizon.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

As, we've mentioned, many times already in the end, businesses are more likely to do, what's good for business. And, what's good for business. At least, in the short term, isn't always, what's good for the planet longterm. Ultimately we're going to need regulation. Market forces alone are probably not going to solve it. At least, it doesn't look like this, at this point. The EU data center industry recently tried to preempt potential regulation that was being considered in Brussels. And, they preempted it with the EU green data center pact, which was announced, I think maybe a month or two ago. I... It's basically a promise that the industry will reduce its climate impact on its own, without a need for new laws. All the big operators signed on hyperscalers data center providers. How effective do you think this will be? Is the industry capable of doing what's right. Even if it's detrimental to profits?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

It's unclear. I do think the initiative will have a positive impact. However, as we mentioned earlier, for sustainability to work in the environment that we're in, there has to be an economic upside as well. And, if the economic upside isn't there, I'm quite convinced that the shareholders of the various companies involved are not going to be too happy about eroding their profits by introducing more and more sustainable measures. I just can't see that's how that's going to work, unless it's mandated. Now that doesn't mean you can't do anything. There are many things that can be done. [inaudible 00:24:39] they can certainly address the embodied energy and the sourcing of materials. But, when it comes to major investment, which perhaps from a total cost of ownership, point of view, has got a pretty negative impact in terms of initial CapEx. I can't see that working.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

So, these are the things, in my opinion that are going to really make a difference. From a point of view of meaningfully reducing the carbon footprint of our industry, are going to be how we handle in generation. We're going to move away from diesel generators and UPS systems and system running on the utility. And, think about what can be done, from point of view generation. Or, can we generate onsite sites as primary? Can we export to the grid similarly from an energy storage point of view. What can be done there? These are major investments. I'm not altogether certain. In fact, I'm quite skeptical that any voluntary initiative is going to be successful in doing. I think legislation is going to be necessary to make it happen.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, something like this has been done at least in one place, right? eBay, famously has their data center in Utah. That's running on natural gas as its primary source. And, it's using grid as backup. But, I don't know how far, to what extent they go to help kind of balance the grid. So, it works both ways.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Well, it probably has a significant effect. It depends on the grid emission factor in that location. I think if I'm... I think this is probably the bloom solid oxide fuel. So-

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Yeah.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

... I guess that's going to have a positive impact, in terms of the sustainability of that system. And, it's that type of thing. It's the introduction of these types of technologies, which are fundamentally different to the way we do things at the moment. Very, very different. And, [inaudible 00:26:42], this comes back to those... this mandate to making things happen because... And, I also think it will be end-user driven. By which I mean, predominantly, hyperscale driven. And, it's quite... It's really encouraging to see or hear, what initiatives are going on, in terms of energy storage, in terms of onsite energy generation. Because, at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, the majority of the building [inaudible 00:27:12] buildings are a hyperscale based. But, then we've also got edge. Okay. And, we're going to have millions of edge sites soon. And, this is another dimension that also needs to be addressed. We need sustainable solutions for edge. You mustn't forget about edge.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Yeah. And that's something that still has to be figured out, is how do you... Because, [inaudible 00:27:32] economically it's going to be even harder, right? You can't have big power generation plants to power edge locations.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Right? No, but there are things that you can do. If, you're prepared to do things differently. This is where we need the industry to shift gears in terms of the way it's deploying its infrastructure. And, stop thinking in a traditional way and think, "Okay, if we're serious about this sustainability, then these are our options. And, the one we're using at the moment is not an option, because it's unsustainable." So, people be forced to think in different ways.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

It looks like there was some interest in creating some regulation for the data center sector in the EU. And, any officials seem to have backed off after some lobbying by the industry. From the idea, for now of regulating the recent energy use. But, they have left the door open for potentially doing something more aggressive in the future. I don't know how widely opened the door is. From your perspective, how likely do you think it is that we'll see actual data center energy laws in the EU?

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Oh, I don't know, Yevgeniy. I mean, I can't say how likely it is. I just believe it's really quite straightforward. As, I said before, there's some very well-meaning organizations out there, but they are owned by shareholders. And, by very definition, those organizations have... One of their primary purposes is to make money for their shareholders. So, when we start introducing sustainability issues that have particularly had a negative impact on CapEx. We may want to have a problem with these voluntary initiatives. How long it will take governments and what it will take for governments to move an act. I really don't know. But, I fundamentally believe it's necessary.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

It seems almost that it would be more effective to have these bigger organizations funded by large private investors, who are interested in climate smart, if you will, investments. Which is... it seems to be a trend that's been rising in the last few years. Than to have these publicly traded companies where it's just, a mob of investors all just wanting to make a quick buck.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Yeah, I mean. If, corporate policy is sufficient. If, it's robust enough and it's really upheld, it could work. Now that's where the investment is coming from. If, that... If, those promises, those commitments. Particularly, that have been made by hyperscale organizations are actually fulfilled, we will move quickly. Because, it's... As, I said that the majority of the large scale data center deployments are hyperscale based. So, it's inevitable, if those guys get behind it. What we don't know is, to what extent they will get behind it and how long it's going to take them?

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

UK is obviously now a different beast from the EU. What's been the UK government's view of data centers and their impact on climate? [inaudible 00:30:30].

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Pretty quiet. I did have a conversation with some people, from government. I'm not privy to this. So, I don't know what the government position is. But, I haven't heard any public statements from the government relating to their approach, to [inaudible 00:30:44] of sustainability.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

And, you've done a lot of consulting work in Singapore, including for Singapore government. Which, I guess hired you guys to help them figure out how to deal with the huge local data center sector, energy consumption. Tell us about the issues there and the work you did with them.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

Oh. So, that piece of work was actually for the government. And, that was back in 2014. And, we were tasked with supporting some government agencies, with some multi-agency effort, to produce what was termed, "The green data center set technology roadmap." Which, was a 20 year... intended to be a 20 year roadmap. And, obviously things have changed a lot [inaudible 00:31:25] since then, most notably in the cloud arena. But, that work is still policy. Although, I understand that I'm not actually involved in that at the moment. But, I believe that policy system evolving over the problem, simple faces is. Well, it is... it's a particularly tricky use case. Because, it's such a small line nation, so highly, [inaudible 00:31:53] densely populated. They don't have the ability to do too much in terms of renewable energy. And, wind power is out of the question. Solar, well, yes, to the extent possible with the limited area. Title limited as well. They've already run a pretty lean grid anyway, almost all of the generation there, is CCGT. So, it's pretty lean anyway.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

So, doing something as important, in terms of greenhouse gas abatement from the data center sector, is very tricky. The only... Apart from the easy steps that we talked about earlier, decommissioning, inefficient data centers and addressing the embodied energy issue and the building reuse. I think should be a big thing there as well. I think there really must be a big push there, to repurpose existing buildings rather than building new... But, that's still is not going to do a lot. I would imagine, Singapore is... As, I understand it, there's a moratorium on data center building at the moment.

Ed Ansett, i3 Solutions:

It's simple and that's existed for a while. I don't believe, they believe it's ever been made public. But, certainly my understanding. And, understandably, because how can you mesh a policy of embracing data center development? And, you commit the commitment to the Paris climate agreement. But, I think probably the best opportunities for Singapore are going to be... It's going to be a hydrogen based, but quite high, they're going to go about it. I'm not too sure.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik, DCK:

Okay, Ed. That's all I have. Thank you so much. Thank you for talking with me.

TAGS: Energy
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