Data4 aims to reduce the carbon footprint of generators in its data centers by 70 to 90% by using a green alternative fuel

Reducing CO2 emissions is among the priorities established by Data4 in its “Operations/Sustainability 22” roadmap. As part of those efforts, the Group decided to study the possibility of replacing the standard fuel used in its generators with a green fuel known as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).

Made from 100% renewable inputs and certified as being sustainable, HVO is a synthetic paraffinic diesel fuel produced from vegetable oils or from reprocessed waste. HVO fuel complies with the European Union’s renewable energy directive and is a safe alternative to fossil fuels.

This initiative is part of Data4 Group’s commitment under the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact to become a “carbon net zero” company by 2030 for all of its business in Europe. This priority was established in the company’s Data4Good sustainability programme.

Designing, building, and guaranteeing the operations of data centers while reducing their environmental impact: these challenges are both necessary and motivating for us, and numerous Data4 employees and partnering providers are involved in responding to them,” says Marie Chabanon, CTO of Data4.

Initial tests produce positive results at the Group’s French campus

Initial testing phases for the usage of HVO were carried out at the PAR1 site of the Marcoussis campus in the Paris region, covering two data centers: DC18 (10 MW) and DC19 (5 MW). The tests allowed Data4 to confirm that usage of the synthetic paraffinic fuel (which is sustainable-certified by France’s ADEME environmental agency) in our generators would not result in any problems for running them.

The future data centers currently under construction (DC 20, 21, 22, and 23) at the PAR1 site will also use HVO as soon as they come online. The Group also plans to carry out tests at other existing data centers and begin switching from standard fuel (fuel oil) to HVO fuel.

Feasibility studies at all of the Group’s sites in Europe

At the same time, the Group has also launched discussions with other countries in which it operates (Italy, Spain, and Poland) regarding the usage of this green alternative fuel.

In Italy, at the Cornaredo campus near Milan, Data4 is conducting feasibility studies for switching from fuel oil to HVO. Additionally, new data centers there will use HVO as soon as they come online (subject to feasibility).

In Spain, studies are also underway at the Alcobendas campus near Madrid for usage of the green fuel. What’s more, the new DC03 will use HVO as soon as it comes online (subject to feasibility).

In Poland, feasibility studies will begin this year, 2023, at the Group’s new campus located about 20 minutes outside of Warsaw, for switching from fuel oil to HVO at DC01. Additionally, new DCs, starting with DC02, will use HVO as soon as they come online (subject to feasibility).

As for Germany, where the Group plans to build a new 25-hectare, 180-MW data-center campus near Frankfurt whose construction will begin in 2024, all of the DCs there will use HVO as soon as they come online (subject to feasibility).

Major savings in terms of CO2 impact

HVO replaces diesel with a green alternative fuel that significantly improves a generator’s carbon footprint. For comparison, using standard fuel oil produces 3.1 kg of CO2 per litre, while using HVO only produces 0.54 kg/L, a difference of 2.56 kg/L.

During testing phases carried out at DC18 and DC19 on the Group’s French campus, an internal study showed that for usage of about 250,000 litres of the green fuel, the company reduced its CO2 emissions by about 640 tonnes.