Just one large data centre uses up to 4 percent of Denmark’s electricity production, a new report from the Klimarådet climate council reveals.
Five data centres are on the way, with Facebook building one in Odense whilst Apple is building centres in Viborg and Aabenraa. Google has a centre planned in Fredericia and one in Aabenraa.
The threat of coal
If the climate goal of 55 percent of Denmark’s energy production being green by 2030, which was set out by the government in last year’s energy agreement, is to be reached, new wind turbine parks will be needed.
“If we don’t watch out, we run the risk that the power used by the data centres will be supplied by coal-fired power stations either at home or abroad,” the council’s chair, Peter Møllegaard, said in press release.
An analysis has revealed that in 2030 the power to run the five planned data centres will cost around 400 million kroner per year. This is the amount that society in general will have to pay to support the construction of new wind turbine parks.
According to the Energistyrelsen energy authority, data centres will swallow up 16 percent of Denmark’s electricity production already in 2030. A decade later the figure is estimated to rise to 22 percent, and by 2040 there could be nine of them.
Not a problem really
However, the energy producers organisation Dansk Energi disputes the idea that the green goals would be in danger. It argues the tech giants have already said they will help finance new sustainable energy projects. The fast pace of technological advances will also help reduce costs.
“If you follow the council’s reasoning, we ought to close down all production in Denmark and move it to another country so we can reach our green goals in Denmark more easily,” Kristine Grunnet from Dansk Energi told DR Nyheder.
A legal matter
“Denmark is a real mecca for wind, and the North Sea alone can cover Denmark’s electricity consumption needs ten times over. We have to exploit that for the benefit of the climate because the world’s appetite for data certainly won’t decrease,” she added.
The council recommends that the government legally binds the owners of the data centres to contributing to the infrastructure required to supply them with green energy. They also recommend that any excess heat produced by the centres, which could be used in district heating, is not taxed – something the government has so far rejected.