Against the background of energy shortages and climate change, the Bavarian State Ministry for Digital Affairs will develop a climate-neutral data centre with the University of Passau.
Various technologies are brought together in the new data centre. A photovoltaic system on the facility’s roof generates electricity for the operation of the servers. Their waste heat is recycled and used for urban gardening, among other things. With the innovative project, the university wants to explore ways of setting up a data centre with its energy consumption and waste heat to work in a climate-neutral or even climate-positive manner. The “Bavarian Green Data Centre” project of the Bavarian State Ministry for Digital Affairs is intended to serve as a model for other data centres in Bavaria and Germany.
Bavaria’s Digital Minister Judith Gerlach explains the project: “We have to reduce our energy consumption significantly. This also and especially applies to the use of IT and the constantly growing demand for computing capacity. Technology can offer solutions here. The Bavarian Green Data Center is a flagship project good for the climate and digital transformation.”
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Climate-Neutral Data Centre On The University Campus
The Bavarian State Ministry for Digital Affairs is building the climate-neutral data centre in cooperation with the University of Passau on the university campus. The electricity requirement is to be covered by the greatest possible use of renewable energies. For this purpose, it is planned to equip the existing surfaces of the building with photovoltaics. Since most of the power in a data centre is lost as waste heat, one of the focal points of the concept is the effective subsequent use of waste heat. It is to be used for growing CO2-absorbing plants in a greenhouse connected to the building. This is also known under the term “Smart Urban Gardening.”
Bavarian Green Data Centre Focuses On Sustainability
The President of the University of Passau, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bartosch, emphasises: “The model project fits perfectly into our overall strategy of appropriately reflecting on the current central issues of sustainability and the resulting future ecological, social and economic challenges not only in research and teaching but also in everyday university practice. We will follow the project with joy and gratitude.”
The “Bavarian Green Data Centre” will be built at the location next to the sports centre of the University of Passau. Among other things, the aim is to research whether and how carbon dioxide can be saved through intelligent planning of the computing load for artificial intelligence servers. The researchers also want to determine how much CO2 absorption is possible in the gardening area through different types of planting.
The University of Passau already has relevant experience as a project partner. For around 30 years, the university has used waste heat and technology for regenerative energy generation to make heating, cooling, and ventilation sustainable. In addition, there is initial experience with innovative urban gardening models and established structures in the field of sustainability, which the University of Passau can draw on.
Increasing Energy Consumption In Data Centres
The growing demand for computing power leads to steadily increasing energy consumption in data centres. The annual energy requirement for data centres was around 16 billion kilowatt hours in 2020 – compared to approximately ten billion kilowatt hours in 2010. Energy-efficient data centres such as the “Bavarian Green Data Centre” can significantly contribute to resource efficiency and climate protection.
The need to save resources has just been proven again by the Global Footprint Network. According to the calculations of the renowned and internationally active non-profit organisation, by the end of July, humanity had already used up all the biological resources that the earth regenerated over a year. Therefore, the Bavarian state government has set itself the goal of reducing resource consumption. She wants to achieve climate neutrality in Bavaria by 2040 at the latest.