Everything that happens online comes from data centers. Everyone uses online services to work, learn and relax. Together with Denmark and the United Kingdom, the Netherlands is a leader in the daily use of the internet. According to the European study, 9 out of 10 Dutch people (age 16-75) use the internet every day. The EU average is 76%. Our media usage, which is increasingly digital, is more than 8 hours a day on average. So everyone, every person and every company uses data centers every day.
80% of Dutch companies with more than 250 employees use cloud services, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). All the applications we use to do our job are based in a data center. Data centers are the foundation of our digital economy with their services. E-commerce, banking, media and communication are sectors that are highly digitized, even industries without a digital focus still have to deal with digital aspects. Data centers are needed for the strong growth of digitization. Especially during the current COVID-19 crisis. Data centers are a strong engine for recovery from the crisis for economies, and function as the foundation for “smart” energy-saving applications. The future is digital.
Energy use of data centers 0.32% of total Dutch energy consumption
On behalf of the ministries of Economic Affairs & Climate (EZK) and Internal Affairs (BZK), the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has been granted access to the delivery records of TenneT, Liander and related parties. For the first time, it has been determined exactly how much electricity was supplied to all independent data centers in the Netherlands in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This turned out to be considerably less than assumed in many previous studies. The current power consumption of data centers in the Netherlands amounts to 2.7 billion kilowatt hours. That is 2.3% of the Dutch electricity consumption, which amounts to 113.1 billion kilowatt hours. Looking at the total energy consumption in the Netherlands, which amounts to 3,080 Petajoules (PJ), the data center sector uses 9.9 PJ converted, which is 0.32% of the total.
The electricity consumption of data centers worldwide has hardly grown in the last 10 years and the amount of data centers is decreasing
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), data centers and data transmission networks each account for about 1% of global electricity consumption in 2019. Since 2010, the number of internet users worldwide has doubled and internet traffic has increased tenfold. The energy consumption however, remained stable over that period and hardly grew, due to the concentration of IT in data centers.
Much of the IT / ICT equipment was already being used when data centers started to concentrate the IT, and thus their energy consumption. But by moving and relocating inefficient server rooms to professional, large and more efficient data centers, energy consumption has been made a lot more efficient. Thanks to these savings and the use of more Cloud applications, energy consumption could remain almost the same despite the enormous growth.
Many smaller data centers are therefore closed and migrated into a few larger ones. The total number of data centers in the Netherlands has been declining for years for this reason. A good example is our Dutch government, which has gone from more than 60 data centers to 5, thereby halving its energy consumption.
The Dutch data center sector has already greened 86% of their energy needs
According to annually recurring research by the Dutch Data Center Association among its participants, data centers in the Netherlands now purchase 86% of their electricity needs sustainably. Data centers lead in the use of renewable energy compared to almost all other industries. The electricity is purchased in the Netherlands and abroad – via certificates. Through the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact, the European data center sector has jointly pleaded to be climate neutral by 2030. The Dutch data centers alone are expected to achieve this much earlier.
Data centers are drivers of green energy projects such as wind farms
By entering into long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), data centers are crucial for securing financing for new wind and solar parks without subsidy. Data centers are stable large-scale users, and are important partners in doing the initial investments to make these types of green energy projects such as new wind farms possible. It is one of the few sectors that is fully committed to this and is already close to the final goals of the climate agreement, but will continue to invest intensively in sustainable projects until then.
Residual heat from data centers is very suitable for local heat infrastructure: energy is used twice
Residual heat from data centers is very suitable for our new heat infrastructure in which a local system uses local heat sources. Data centers are located in most major cities and can provide a local heat network with sustainable heat for the built environment. This has been operational and a reality in various places for years. In Amsterdam Science Park, 1,300 apartments are now being heated, in Eindhoven some 40 office buildings on the High Tech Campus and another data center heats a swimming pool, school and nursery in Aalsmeer. Soon about 2,500 homes will be added in Groningen. However, this could be much more if restrictive regulations were amended.
Due to new developments in residential construction, which is much more energy-efficient, the lower temperature of the data center residual heat, 25-30 ℃, is perfectly suitable. Since most data centers, 86% of the DDA members, use green electricity, data center residual heat is also generated sustainably. By using the energy twice, it is a wonderful example of a circular society.
The data center sector is almost completely emission-free
As a fully electrified industry, the industry has no direct greenhouse gas emissions. Data centers only switch to emergency power when the power supply is interrupted. There are relatively few outages in the Netherlands: users had an average of 24 minutes without electricity in the past five years. Since the sector is fully electrified and many companies already use 100% electricity from sustainable sources, this concerns the scope 1 and 2 emissions. Many data centers already meet the Performance Ladder level 3.
Dutch data center sector in top 5 in terms of energy-saving measures
40 sectors are working with the government on energy saving and CO2 reduction in the context of the Energy Agreement and the Long-Term Agreements on Energy Efficiency (MJA (3) / MEE). Data centers have been actively participating in this for almost 15 years and are consistently in the top 5 of best performing sectors. The EML lists are also drawn up together with RVO and are periodically tested and expanded. In terms of efficiency, measured in PUE, Dutch data centers are at the top in Europe. Energy efficiency requirements in the Netherlands have been very strict for many years (PUE <1.2 in the MRA).
Working from home thanks to data centers generates energy gains
With 55% of the working population currently working from home, the Netherlands relies extra hard on its digital infrastructure, as all those millions of home offices are facilitated by data centers. Figures from the International Energy Agency show that global internet traffic increased by nearly 40% between February and mid-April 2020. With a clear sustainability gain: the Netherlands uses 10% less energy and has so far emitted 5 Mton less CO2, while the power consumption of the data centers themselves increased by only 1-4%.
The IEA found that if anyone who could work from home did that one day a week, the overall effect on global CO2 emissions would be an annual decrease of 24 million tons (Mt) – which equates to most of the annual CO2 emissions from Greater London.
The data center sector has one of the smallest footprints in square meters in the Netherlands
The built-up area of data centers in the Netherlands is about 150 hectares. Compared to the size of the total surface area of the Dutch industrial sites, 841,000 hectares, this is a footprint of 0.017%. Compared to greenhouse horticulture (10,445 hectares / 1.2%), distribution centers (3,459 hectares – 0.41%), data centers in the Netherlands are one of the sectors with the smallest footprint.
Even with the strong growth of the sector, the footprint remains very small compared to other sectors. Around 20% of all Dutch data centers are located in existing business buildings (brownfield) and the majority is discreetly located on regular business sites. Given its very small footprint, data centers are statistically hardly contributing to the so-called “verdozing” (‘’boxing of the landscape’’) compared to other sectors.
The water consumption by data centers is 0.088% of the total consumption in the Netherlands
By concentrating IT equipment in data centers, cooling can be more efficient compared to smaller server rooms. Data centers use different cooling strategies for this. Some choose to use water in their cooling process. This is because electricity can be saved by using water on hot summer days. Other data centers do not use water, but therefore use more electricity for cooling. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has researched that the total water use of data centers is 1 million cubic meters, which is 0.088% of the total tap water use in the Netherlands.
Post-Corona economic downfall in the Netherlands will be limited due to the strong digital infrastructure
The Dutch economy had one of the lowest economic downfall rates in Europe in 2020, at 3.8%. Germany reported a decrease of 5%, the United Kingdom 10% and Spain even 11%. The fact that our economy is doing better than that of Germany, for example, is partly due to the good digital infrastructure that ensures that we can work and shop from home smoothly.
Especially in the days of COVID-19 and working from home, digitization is a strong driver for recovery after the crisis. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the Netherlands is one of the top 4 countries that will recover the fastest, due to our high-quality digital economy and good digital infrastructure.
Data centers make a significant contribution to direct employment
In addition to the fact that about a hundred people work in a single data center (depending on the size), data centers also create a lot of indirect employment. Research from 2019 shows that over 10,000 FTE are at work in and around the Dutch data centers (directly and indirectly). These jobs are partly coming from all the suppliers such as builders, designers, supply of equipment, installation technology, etc. But also comes from the continuous maintenance of the facilities and the IT equipment. This number is expected to grow with 3,000 jobs between 2019- 2024.
Data centers are fundamental for the 2.1 million jobs in the Dutch digital economy
The digital economy has become the economy. Every day we rely on digital services and that dependence has grown even more since the Corona pandemic. The total digital footprint in the Netherlands already amounted to € 460 billion in 2020, 60% of Dutch GDP. And this is just the beginning. Like our economy, our workforce is becoming more digital every day. At the beginning of 2020, 2.1 million people depended on digital services for more than 50% of their work. In reality, this number is even higher, since many people have been working from home full-time since the beginning of Corona. The workplace of this digital working population is facilitated by data centers, who ensure that all digital applications run smoothly.
Rapport – Toekomst van de Digitale Economie
The Netherlands is a digital mainport and tech hub that provides 109,000 jobs
The Netherlands has an excellent worldwide position as a data distribution hub and is an important internet hub. The data centers located in the Netherlands provide digital services to all kinds of companies in the Netherlands, but also for the rest of Europe. Our strong data hub is globally renowned and unique.
Data centers employ more than 10,000 FTE (direct and indirect). But they are also fundamental to the 109,000 jobs in the tech hub and 2.1 million jobs in the digital economy. Media and content companies such as Netflix, Liberty Global, DAZN, DisneyPlus, Discovery Channel, BBC, partly choose Amsterdam / Netherlands because of the excellent digital connections. This also applies to companies such as Adyen, Palo Alto, Booking.com, Tesla, Oracle and Cisco. And many other, smaller companies such as IT service providers, semi-public institutions and other (digital) SMEs who, thanks to the data centers, have cheap and professional server space with plenty of rapid growth opportunities at their disposal.
Our digital hub is growing faster than traditional mainports
Data centers contribute 1.5 billion euros to GDP and their economic impact increases. Compared to Schiphol Airport and the port of Rotterdam, the Digital Hub is growing strongly. The expected annual growth from 2019 to 2025 is 6.5%, where the growth of Schiphol Airport and the port of Rotterdam is expected to remain below 2%. It is the main hub of the future. Especially in the time of COVID-19, the other hubs in The Netherlands are seriously affected. The digital infrastructure remains an almost unaffected sector, it is the strong engine for recovery from this crisis. Examples are ASML and ASMI, which continue to grow strongly in the Netherlands due to the ongoing digitization that largely takes place in data centers. The future is digital and is located in data centers.
Rapport – State of the Dutch Data Centers 2019
Rapport – Toekomst van de Digitale Economie
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