Sustainable Data Centers: Carbon Neutral by 2030

NorthC intends to be fully carbon neutral by 2030. We will accomplish this with four sustainability pillars: 100% green energy, modular construction, green hydrogen, and making efficient use of residual heat.

Green hydrogen

Our new data center in Groningen will become one of the first data centers in the world to install fuel cells that run on green hydrogen (H2). We are currently looking into the use of green hydrogen as a means of making all our primary and emergency generators carbon neutral. Data centers typically use diesel generators to provide emergency power. NorthC wants to make its emergency generators as carbon neutral as possible over the next few years. We can achieve this with a mix of green energy, green hydrogen, wind, and solar. But that’s not all. We are also looking at possibilities to start producing our own green hydrogen, by making smart use of the solar and wind energy that we generate. That way, we will no longer need to rely on other providers for our primary and emergency-power facilities.

Green energy

We are now using 100% green energy to power our data centers. Over the next few years, we hope to increase our use of self-sustaining facilities, which is why we are investing in self-generation of sustainable energy. We are closely examining what wind, solar, and green hydrogen have to offer so that in the future, we need to draw less power from the grid and generate more of our own. If we are able to generate our own power, this will also give us the flexibility to produce our own green hydrogen which we can then use to run our new emergency generators. This will create a “green chain” in which no energy is lost and all resources are utilized as efficiently as possible. Read more about this topic in our blog ‘A Sustainable Data Center? Absolutely.’

Residual heat

We strive to use all residual energy. For example, we use the heat energy that is generated in our data centers to heat the neighborhood around us. In Eindhoven, we are connected to the heat grid of the High Tech Campus and exchange cold and heat with other organizations on the campus site. In Aalsmeer, our residual heat is used to heat a children’s daycare center, a plant nursery, and a swimming pool. The largest residual heat project that we are currently participating in is Rotterdam Schiebroek, which will, over the next few years see 10,000 households heated partly with residual heat from our data center in Rotterdam. In the design of all our new data centers, the capability to exchange heat is built in by default. As soon as a new opportunity opens up, we are ready to start exchanging residual heat.

Modular construction

All our newly built data centers are modular in construction. This means that we only make assets operational when they are needed, resulting in a lower power consumption. Facilities such as cooling, electricity, and monitoring are only put into operation when they are actually needed. Thus modularity is also reflected in the structure of our data center racks. Empty spaces are covered with panels to prevent cold air from escaping unnecessarily. We also use sensors that activate lighting only when needed, continuously monitor for potential improvements, and replace assets with more efficient versions.

Interested in our sustainability initiatives or have a question?

We’d be happy to tell you more during a personal tour. You can also request a no-obligation quote.