The liability of legacy

Concerns around recent global events and the subsequent inflationary pressure on power, materials and labour costs are not, as yet, adversely affecting growth in the data centre sector which continues to remain buoyant. This is according to the latest independent industry survey, which captures the views of over 3000 senior datacentre professionals across Europe, including owners, operators, developers, consultants and end users.

“The European economic outlook remains surrounded by an exceptional degree of uncertainty as Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine continues and the potential for further economic disruptions is far from exhausted. Yet against this backdrop our respondents are confident with a 100% agreement that demand will either grow or remain the same in the coming 12 months,” explains Jim Hart, CEO at BCS who commissioned the report which is now in its fourteenth year.

However, with further rising inflationary pressures forecast, 85% of respondents stated that they expect to have to raise prices to cover costs. This is in part due to adverse developments on the gas market, the risk of shortages and the impact on energy costs, especially in the winter of 2023-24. In addition, 82% of our respondents agreed that the current pressures will increase the demand for power efficient data space over the next three years which represents a significant uplift on the two thirds that expressed this same opinion 12 months ago.

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The survey suggests that this will certainly be the approach for new developments moving forward and will accelerate the uptake of alternative power sources and ever more efficient design solutions. Our survey participants continue to illustrate that commitment with over four-fifths once again agreeing that they expect the sourcing of power for data centres to be at least 90% from renewable sources by 2032.

However, the issue of legacy data centres remains key as they are still consuming huge amounts of energy at far greater PUE’s than their modern and future counterparts. In response almost two-thirds of those surveyed agreed that retrofitting of existing facilities to enable them to adopt or enhance renewable energy power sources is something that they would be prepared to consider as they look to meet regulatory requirements around net zero targets.

“The pursuit of green, renewable energy continues with the sector having committed to ambitious targets. The challenges are most complex for the stock of data centres spread throughout Europe around 60% of which are in excess of eighteen years old but remain vital to enabling the sector to meet demand. At BCS we are addressing these legacy challenges for a number of our clients and have seen significant improvements to sustainability delivered as part of a general refreshment of assets that are often beyond their economic life as we look to renew, re-use, refresh and repeat rather than rebuild. This action will ensure that legacy is no longer a liability,” concludes Jim.


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