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Podcast S21E03

Greening data centres

cloud data center

In this episode Jon Slowe and Sandra Trittin, explore how power-hungry data centres can minimise their environmental impact with Ciaran Flanagan, Global Head of Datacenter Solutions & Services at Siemens and Stefanie Casall, Director Brand & Marketing, AQ Compute.

Episode transcript

[00:00:04.490] - Jon Slowe 

Welcome to Talking New Energy, a podcast from LCP Delta. I'm Jon Slowe. 

 

[00:00:09.310] - Sandra Trittin 

And I'm Sandra Trittin. And together we are exploring how the energy transition is unfolding across Europe through conversations with guests from the leading edge of the transition. 

 

[00:00:19.490] - Jon Slowe 

Hello, Sandra. 

 

[00:00:20.700] - Sandra Trittin 

Hey, Jon, how are you doing? 

 

[00:00:22.720] - Jon Slowe 

Very good, thanks. And you? 

 

[00:00:24.400] - Sandra Trittin 

Fine as well. And today I'm really excited because we are looking at an interesting topic about data centres, right. And many of our listeners will know that these data centres are consuming a lot of energy, but they are also crucial for the digitalization of the energy ecosystem. Currently, they are roughly consuming around 2% of the global electricity use. But it's growing fast, right. Because we all need, besides more energy, we also need more data. So, we'll be an interesting session today. 

 

[00:00:58.950] - Jon Slowe 

It will. And, yeah, we need more data. AI is going to increase that data consumption. And I read that in Ireland, data centres in the next years could consume nearly one third of all electricity, which I found staggering. Maybe we'll discover today a bit about why Ireland is such a good place for data centres. 

 

[00:01:22.790] - Sandra Trittin 

Yeah, and, I mean, this is really a tremendous amount, and it shows us how critical it is to manage the energy usage of the data centres as carefully as possible. 

 

[00:01:33.470] - Jon Slowe 

Well, let's get stuck into the topic and introduce our guests. 

 

[00:01:37.030] - Sandra Trittin 

Yes. So, let's say first hello to Stefanie Casall, the director, brand and marketing of AQ Compute. Hello, Stefanie. Could you give us a short introduction and a short elevator pitch, please? 

 

[00:01:51.170] - Stefanie Casall 

Yes, of course. Hi, Sandra. Hi, Jon. Thank you for the invitation. I'm really happy to be here. I'm really excited, to be honest. Yes. I'm working at AQ Compute. I'm the director of brand and marketing. And yes. So, AQ Compute, we are an enabler of IT decarbonisation for our customers and a society. Shaking up the data centre sector by building sustainable, zero emission, state of the art, AI-ready data centres. So, we provide flexible and modular data centre and colocation services throughout Europe powered by renewable energy. They are built to handle the highest densities, which means they are AI-ready, suitable for compute storage and let's say, for all compute storage and GPU applications. But the reason why we are doing this is the looking beyond. So, we have one planet for all time, a planet which is growing more connected day-by-day. So, this means for us, we have the responsibility to take care of this planet for us and for future generations. So, our higher goal at AQ Compute is to protect our planet by taking action with our commitment towards these green data centres and decarbonisation. 

 

[00:03:11.510] - Sandra Trittin 

Wow. Sounds exciting. And then we have today also our second guest, Ciaran Flanagan, the global head of data centre solutions and services at Siemens. Hi, Ciaran, great to have you with us. Could you also tell us a bit about your role and what it entails at Siemens? 

 

[00:03:28.920] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Hi, Sandra. Hi, Jon. Hi, Stefanie. And thanks for the opportunity to join you today, talking to you from Dublin. So, we can pick up on the Dublin point or the Ireland point later, Jon. So, yeah, I lead the global data centre business for Siemens. So, Siemens is a well-known industrial brand where we bring solutions to many, many industries. Automation solutions, infrastructure solutions, digital solutions. You know, really, Siemens, we're all about helping our customers in all of these different industries transform, meet the new trends, the new trends around digitalisation data and the new opportunities. So, it's a really exciting time to work for an industrial and software company as the world really grapples and transforms to meet these new challenges. Specifically for data centre, which is one of the businesses, we work with all of the major data centre operators around the world, and we provide for them very specific solutions around electrical distribution, control systems, data management. We also provide safety systems, security systems, and we even have Siemens bank working with us, with some of our clients as well to provide finance. So, it's very much an end-to-end set of solutions to help our data centre customers build to their demand, but also to build more sustainable, to build more flexibility and you know, to build a data centre that's going to be relevant for them for the long haul. And that's really what Siemens is trying to do in this industry. 

 

[00:05:05.510] - Jon Slowe 

Thanks, Ciaran . Thanks, Stefanie. There's so many questions that I want to ask, but let's maybe start just for our listeners that may be a bit unfamiliar with data centres. Why are data centres so hungry? So, Stefanie, maybe you can start. Ciaran , you can add in, can you break down a bit how data centres use energy? What are the main ways they're using electricity? Why are they so power hungry? 

 

[00:05:33.770] - Stefanie Casall 

Yes, of course. So, data centres are the home of, let's say, artificial intelligence. They are the backbone. And with a growing demand of artificial intelligence, also the demand for data centres is growing and also the energy consumption is growing. And I think this is at one side, it's a challenge for all as human beings, on the other side, it's a risk. So, this is the most important thing, artificial intelligence, the growing part of this, the demand is growing, and therefore, yes, data centres need to be there. The energy supply on data centres is growing. This is a very important, very interesting part. The cooling, energy or data centres needs to be cooled. 

 

[00:06:26.810] - Jon Slowe 

How does that break down between the power demand for the operation and then the cooling demand? Is most of the energy used to run the servers and a bit for the cooling, or is it a bit for the servers and most of the cooling, or can it vary? 

 

[00:06:44.040] - Stefanie Casall 

I would say the most of the energy is used for the cooling. So, it's around 30, sometimes until 50% it's used for cooling. And that's a lot, I would say. So, this is a challenge for the companies and for the data centre providers to supply the data centres first with good, clean and renewable energy. And on the other side, yes, to have an efficient cooling system inside the data centre. And there's a lot behind. It's not only to say it's an efficient cooling, we cool with water or we have an air cooling system. So, it's, from my perspective, much more behind. It starts with the building of the data centre; it starts with the cooling equipment itself. And also, the third point is to maybe to reuse the heat, the excess heat from the data centre. So, it's a really interesting field. 

 

[00:07:36.770] - Jon Slowe 

Ciaran, how do you see it when you're looking across different data centres around. 

 

[00:07:39.990] - Ciaran Flanagan 

The know, much like Stefanie said, I mean, obviously there's a lot of demand, right, for services. I think maybe just to step back a little bit in the industry in the time, right. So as an industry, we need to make sure that we tell our story well and somebody brought to my attention recently, if the airline industry had achieved levels of efficiency over the past 15 years that the data centre industry had achieved, particularly the microprocessor piece of it, you could fly a commercial jet from London to New York with maybe 2030 litres of fuel, right? So, the industry itself has really driven efficiency at an architectural level, now, at a cooling level, and then onwards, we'll do even more with better energy efficiency in terms of how we distribute power and how we manage power. But again, to Stefanie's point, the demand right now, the demand has just been phenomenal, the demand for new facilities, the demand for new services. But again, I think the real point here is that we're doing ever more service and ever more value add in economies with incrementally less energy. And the IEA, the International Energy Agency, they did a study a couple of years ago and they showed that the data centre energy consumption, while it is growing, right, it's growing moderately, it's quite moderate, right, it's still a relatively stable consumption pattern, because as companies like AQ Compute bring new capacity on with better efficiency, some customers some players can retire old capacity, so there's kind of this replacement flywheel running around and I think that really adds value to what this industry can bring to economies as well. 

 

[00:09:28.260] - Sandra Trittin 

I just wanted to ask if there is any geographical focus that you see across Europe or across the globe for positioning these kind of data centres and what are the drivers for that? 

 

[00:09:41.210] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Absolutely, Sandra. I mean, in our business we do for sure. I mean, right now North America is in a boom cycle to meet the AI demand and we're seeing that emerging very much in Europe as well now. South Asia is very strong. India, India is a phenomenal market and obviously China remains a significantly big market. I mean, I think if you look across the globe, we have these concentrations, these what we call tier one cities, but for our business we're seeing it pretty much everywhere, but some really strong performing markets and emerging markets as well. 

 

[00:10:16.180] - Jon Slowe 

Stefanie, what about you? Where are you building your data centres across Europe? Particular locations? Particular countries? 

 

[00:10:22.320] - Stefanie Casall 

Yeah, so we have the first data centre in Norway and yes, I want to talk also a bit on Norway, due to your question, because Norway is a country which offers, from my perspective, really good conditions for data centres. It's in Scandinavian country and it has a colder climate. And from my perspective, it's a really cool home for data centres and also for these new AI data centres, because the energy is cheaper, it's colder around, and because I talked about cooling, you can also start with a free cooling. So, it's also an efficient way of cool data centres. So that's why, yes, I want to raise my hand for Norway, but we are also building a data centre in Spain. So, it's a completely different country. So, you have completely different conditions there, you have much more sun, it's warmer. So, this means when we talk about renewable energy, we have much more solar panels we can use for data centres. So, this is also an interesting point for AQ Compute to combine our data centres with, for example, a solar panel field. So, to have this directly on the plot and maybe also to own this. So, this is a very interesting point from our side and we will have some more data centres in different countries, let's say like this also. And next, a second one in Norway. So, we are building a second plot in Norway. 

 

[00:11:59.270] - Jon Slowe 

The cooling of a data centre in Norway and the cooling of a data centre in Spain look very different, or can you have the same design of the same cooling approach, the same design, the same type of equipment in both? 

 

[00:12:13.000] - Stefanie Casall 

From my perspective, it depends a bit. So, in general, you have an AQ Compute data centre, so this means you need to have a look on the country and on the special requirements of the country. So, the design can be in general, because we have a sustainability approach, a high sustainability approach, the design should be the same. But now I come to my but it's different because the one is in Spain, you have different conditions, outside conditions, for example, and the other one is in Norway. So, as I said, it's colder, you can have also free cooling. This is maybe not the best approach in Spain. So, in general, we have our AQ Compute design, we have our approach to sustainability, this is the same, but we need to have a look on all our countries where we build data centres and there are different country related topics we need to take care of. But I want to go one step back because, yes, we started about talking about sustainability data centres and it's very interesting. But in general, the basis. What's the basis behind? And I think the basis to all these topics we are talking about is us as human beings. 

 

[00:13:28.630] - Stefanie Casall 

And this is very important for me, and I want to point out this here because it starts all with awareness on every human being's side. So, we all need to be aware of why we are here on this planet and why we are working, for example, in this company or what is the company doing and why. So, this is very important to me especially, and also to my approach to work into AQ Compute. And we need to start with the little things, and it starts on us. This is important. And then when we are as human beings, not aware of these little things on our own, it's very difficult to set up all these bigger topics like, for example, making our data centres more sustainable. So, you get my point, it's a bit different now, but it's more about my values, so it's more about the looking beyond of why we are doing this and why we are here. That's not about making money, it's about taking care. 

 

[00:14:33.190] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Yeah, and I think as well, if I could just jump in there. It's a great point, Stefanie. I think that the data centre industry has facilitated a massive amount of transformation across many, many industries that is supporting sustainability goals for many, many industries. And I think the data centre industry has come a long way in efficiency. But the fact of the matter is the data centre industry does consume resource and the best thing we can do is to be mindful of that and to behave in a sustainable fashion as we can and constantly, constantly look for opportunities to drive out that impact. I don't know if we ever get to a point in the future where sustainabilities have end-to-end, zero impact? I doubt it. I think anything you do on the planet has some impact. But if we consistently drive to get better and better and better, we'll get to a better place. We will get to a better place. And I think that's the message that I'd like to make sure that industry digests that we are on a journey here and we've got a lot of technology, we've got a lot of tools, we've got a lot of ambition, and I think we can make it better. 

 

[00:15:46.180] - Stefanie Casall 

Yes, totally agree. Thank you for this comment, Ciaran. Yes, I totally agree. So, it's about these little steps we need to take step-by-step, and we need to walk our talk. 

 

[00:16:01.490] - Jon Slowe 

Have you got some examples of those steps? Ciaran, you talked about how efficiency of data centres has got better and better and better over the years. Stefanie, you talked about starting your whole mindset and philosophy and approach to building a data centre ground that in sustainability. But can you help our listeners understand what some of the practical things that you would do in a data centre to get that constant improvement in efficiency? Ciaran, that you talked about, where does that come from? Is it the chips or is its other things or how do you drive that efficiency? 

 

[00:16:39.990] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Yeah, great question, Jon. So, to be a little facetious, I suppose a data centre is a little bit like a washing machine, in that when you buy a washing machine, over 80%, possibly close to 90% of the carbon impact or the sustainability impact of that washing machine happens during the operations phase. When you use the washing machine, because you use electricity, there's a piece of it that happens when you build the washing machine, for sure. And data centres are a little bit like that. I mean, I think when we talk about efficiency, when we talk about sustainability, we do what we can at the design and the construction phase, and there's lots we can do. Recycle steel, carbon free concrete, prefabrication of infrastructure and equipment. So, you're doing less work on the site. All of these add to the sustainability story. But then you get into operations, then you get to run the data centre, like our colleagues at AQ Compute do. And that's when it starts to get really interesting. And a theme is we look at it across three dimensions. We look at the measure, the manage and the mitigate. So, they're kind of the three levers that we play with. 

 

[00:17:56.940] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Measure is really, really important and we talk with a lot of customers about this. Measure is all about transparency and information and data, and our industry is still catching up, right. There's many, many data centres out there who still don't have quite the right level of instrumentation to truly measure their impact, whether it's where they're using the electricity, where they've got thermal issues in the data centre, even how they're distributing the electricity from their energy supplier. So, all of that measurement is something that's really, really important. And we're seeing in Europe, by the way, a big shift by the European Union to really focus on data centres. And one of the earlier requirements in that shift is the ability to report, to measure what's going on in your data centre. So that's foundational. Then we've got manage is all about efficiency. So, energy efficiency, Stefanie talked about it. A big battleground for energy efficiency is the cooling. Absolutely the cooling. The more cooling or the more heat rejection you can deliver with less power, the better for your data centre. Another big battleground, and arguably a larger battleground, is on the IT stack. How we write software, how we deploy software, how chips are designed, that will also have a big impact on how much workload you can get through for a fixed envelope of power. 

 

[00:19:25.910] - Ciaran Flanagan 

And then we have technologies in Siemens, we've got our white space cooling optimisation, where we use AI to manage the cooling infrastructure to drive out hotspots. We've got power quality capabilities that will reduce harmonics in the data centre, again leading to better energy efficiency. We've also got very, very sophisticated design tools that allow data centre operators to design power networks with less, right. With less physical equipment to achieve the same thing. So, again, to go back to that incremental story, we can really start to look at step-by-step, how we start to drive out what is, let's say, excess use of energy. So that's really all about managing what you've got and making sure you're getting the best value out of that use of resource. The last piece of the puzzle then, is mitigation. Mitigation is all about where you get your energy from, how you're engaging with the utility markets to buy energy. Can you access energy that's carbon neutral? Can you do onsite generation with solar panels, with wind, with hydrogen, with batteries? All of the things you can do to make the energy that's landing at your facility less impactful, more sustainable, more green. 

 

[00:20:50.660] - Ciaran Flanagan 

And one of the things that I come across often is a discussion about people maybe think that, okay, so if the energy is green, then I don't need to be so worried about efficiency. And that's not true. Even green energy, we should use it responsibly, because every watt of green that's on the planet can displace a watt of brown, let's call it that. And if you can take out that dirty energy or that energy that's carbon rich with green energy overall, you're adding to a better story. So, for me, the practical steps are measure with the right instrumentation, manage by driving energy and resource efficiency usage, and then mitigate by making sure you're sourcing all of your materials in a responsible way, your energy, your infrastructure, even your construction materials, and that you've got full view on that supply chain. 

 

[00:21:39.240] - Jon Slowe 

And in part of that, I guess, manage the cooling. Stefanie, you talked earlier about free cooling in Norway, I've seen data centres where the waste heat is recovered and used, for example, for district heating. So how easy or how widespread is it that you can actually recover that waste heat and use it for district heating or heating buildings or something else? 

 

[00:22:08.810] - Ciaran Flanagan 

I'll just jump in there because I think we're at a fascinating time for district heating, by the way, so it's not trivial heretofore in standard data centres, the thermal density of data centre waste heat, it's not so dense. Right, so you got to build a data centre beside a school or a hospital or housing, or at least close by. But it does work and there's many, many good examples of it. There's many good examples of data centres in urban settings that are really contributing to the local community by providing waste heat. But here's the thing. Now we're on the point of really embracing AI, where the heat density is going to increase, and I'm watching very closely to see if that increase in heat density from AI workloads actually even improves our ability to capture waste heat. It gives us better options. We use the waste heat for housing and hospitals, maybe we use the waste heat for heat to power conversion. There may be many other options emerging for us when we look at the AI workloads, when we look at, let's say, the thermal loops in liquid cooling and when we look at the power density. So, it's one to watch for. Stefanie? Sorry. 

 

[00:23:30.610] - Stefanie Casall 

No worries. It's good. I totally agree. So, from my perspective, it's a connexion topic. So, you need to have connexion to the neighbourhood plot, for example, or to the neighbourhood communities around. So, I'm a big, big fan of using the excess heat of a data centre, but as I said, it's walk-the-talk. You need to have a connected way of using this energy, of taking this energy out and bring this to a surrounded area or connect it to a heating system. And that's the point. So, if you have a data centre with a solar panel on the roof, for example, or with a solar field, and only to use the energy which comes into the data centre, and on the other side you have, I don't know, a greenhouse, this would be the best case, I would say. So, you have the direct connexion, the energy comes into the data centre and goes as excess heat out and for example, to your greenhouse. So, this is on my wish list for data centres to have this combination. I think this is the best case. But maybe allow me to go one step back to the question before, because Ciaran talked about monitoring and management, and I think that's a really interesting point because it's about transparency. 

 

[00:24:56.040] - Stefanie Casall 

When we talk about sustainability in the data centre industry, we need to be more transparent, from my perspective. So, it's about measuring, it's about getting data. I don't know if we can say how efficient or how sustainable data centres in Germany are. I do not know if we have concrete numbers. So that's why it is about measuring and then it's about getting data to have a conclusion, is the data centre sustainable or not, or we need to expand, or we need to approve stuff. And what I want to say very fast is we implemented in our data centre in Norway, and I really like this. It's a monitoring system to monitor temperature, humidity, water flow and power on every rack. And I think that's a really first cool step from AQ compute to make things transparent and to see, okay, this is humidity. If it's too high or if it's too low, a rack, for example, cannot work in a good way, so you need to regulate. And if you make this on every rack, it's very cool because it's very efficient. You can see, okay, this rack is not working really good at the moment, but energy goes in so then you can regulate, and you can say, okay, you need to do stuff on the hardware to make it, let's say, work again in a better way. 

 

[00:26:23.450] - Stefanie Casall 

You need to take away, you need to cut this, the humidity, for example, or if you say, I don't know, the workflow on a rack is not high at the moment. So, this means also the water flow for the cooling goes down. So, this means we are using much less energy for cool the rack. So, all these numbers we need to know because we need to understand how a data centre is working in detail and then we can be a bit more efficient. And I think that's also the case Ciaran mentioned, we need to use also renewable energy in a sustainable way. And this is coming back to my point I mentioned, it's also a topic of awareness. So also, if it's renewable, we need to be careful and we need to be aware. Okay. I'm using my mobile phone again because I need to have a look on Instagram, or I don't know where. So, is this necessary? 

 

[00:27:23.720] - Jon Slowe 

I try and tell that to my children sometimes, Stefanie, but. 

 

[00:27:29.070] - Sandra Trittin 

I think it comes down to the point that you can only save on what you can see, which actually comes to me a bit as a surprise that in a technology like data centres, there is an issue with transparency and provision of data, of seeing that. But it looks like, right, it's a room for improvement. 

 

[00:27:50.560] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Yeah, I think, Sandra, that's correct. I mean, this industry comes from a history of, let's say, closed and not transparent, but it's getting much, much better. Some of it will be forced by legislation. But also, Stefanie makes a point about transparency. I see a lot of my customers, customers looking for the data now. So, if you're running a data centre, potentially your customer will also want visibility and transparency into some of this data. So, it's changing in a positive way as well. 

 

[00:28:22.690] - Sandra Trittin 

And I assume it has also quite some impact on the ESG reporting's of your users, right. Potentially of the data centre, because now this is the hot topic, right. And focus was a lot on the social part also in the past, but now it comes more and more. Also, what is the impact on data, on networks, on energy usage, et cetera? 

 

[00:28:45.090] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Yeah, well, I think to go back to Jon's point at the top of this discussion about the 30% in Ireland, by the way, just for the record, I don't believe we will get the 30% and we can maybe do a podcast on that, again. I think things will increase, but, I mean, 30% will be a huge impact, but see what happens. It draws attention. It draws attention from legislators. Data centres now become a very meaningful part of the electricity grid and with that comes responsibility. So, let's see how this plays out. 

 

[00:29:19.830] - Jon Slowe 

It's fascinating areas. I'm thinking of some of LCP Delta, we tender for work like other consultants. And in the scoring metrics now, there's often a part of the scoring for social value, and that's exactly what you've all been saying, that data centres customers are going to demand more social value ESG from data centres. So, yeah, it sounds like there's a lot of opportunity, but also some companies like AQ compute, Stefanie, that are really positioning yourself as doing everything you possibly can to minimise your impact on the environment and maximise sustainability. 

 

[00:30:11.410] - Stefanie Casall 

Yes, we try. We are on a journey, so let's say it like this. We are also mentioning on the website, let's follow our path to net zero or we are on a journey. So, this is very important for us because we are not perfect, but we try to be as sustainable as we can, and we try to build the data centres as sustainable as it's possible. So, this is our aim, because we cannot avoid the high demand of AI, artificial intelligence, but we need to make it, and this is a very big task, it's their task to make this as sustainable as we can. And yes, we talked about ESG before and I think we had a lot about these E in ESG, about these environmental points, but it's also interesting and it's also very important for us to have these S included, because the S is the social point of ESG and from our perspective, it's also very important to take care on this stuff and it's more about, yes, look at all these human beings living on our earth. So, it's also important to take care on people on the planet, take care on all these environments around. So, this is also an important point and part of our ESG strategy. So, we are also strong in the S. 

 

[00:31:35.310] - Jon Slowe 

Well, it's great to see you building data centres with that as your sort of philosophy and mindset, Stefanie. Time is getting the better of us, so we better bring up the talking new energy crystal ball. And Ciaran and Stefanie, I'd like you to imagine yourselves in six years’ time, 2030, and pull out one or two changes or developments you'll have seen in the last six years. So, imagine in 2030, looking back at the last six years, one or two things that would stand out to you as you reflect on how data centres have become even more efficient and sustainable. Ciaran, do you want to go first and then Stefanie? 

 

[00:32:16.800] - Ciaran Flanagan 

Yeah, thanks, Jon. Yeah. That's always a tough question, isn't it? It's always a tough question. I mean, there's a couple of things I see a real opportunity for the data centre industry and the utilities to get closer coupled, demand response, really, the data centre becoming a much, much more active part of the grid to help flattening out peaks and generally driving efficiency out of the grid at the grid scale. I think that's a huge opportunity for the data centre industry and we're already seeing some of the beginnings of that over the last couple of years. So that would be my number one. I think the second thing, I hope, is that as an industry, we really leverage control systems, automation software, AI, to drive ever more efficient ways of running our data centres. So really driving out the waste, really helping and supporting data centre operators to be the best they can be when it comes to operational efficiency. I think that's a fantastic opportunity as well. And then the last thing I'd like to think is that data centre, as an industry, really gets recognised for the contribution, the economic contribution it's making. I mean, absolutely, we need to continue to tell the story about sustainability and how broad sustainability is, right? So, sustainability is energy, its waste, its people, it's all of these things. It's a very broad topic, but by 2030, I'd love to be sitting here on a podcast with you, Jon, saying that we've really made that leap forward to where the data centre industry is seen and is recognised for the impact it's had over the last 20 years, broadly and by everybody, and that we can continue to make it better into the future. 

 

[00:34:17.110] - Jon Slowe 

That's fascinating, Ciaran. I think each of those three points could unpick a load more, but great points. And I like the last one of framing it, the frame. I think it's easy to say, look how much energy data centres are using, but the way you described it is much more positive. Stefanie, how about you? What will you see looking back from 2030? 

 

[00:34:39.690] - Stefanie Casall 

Yes, a great question. Thank you for this question, Jon. Yes, it's not so much time. Six years. So, three important parts, from my perspective, coming back to the human being, it's about honesty and awareness. So, we all need to come back to this topic, and we need to be honest, and we need to be aware of things we are doing. It's about transparency, because we should not be afraid of monitoring systems and of giving numbers to the outside, because we can learn from each other, and we should learn from each other. And this is the first wish I have to the people outside. The other point is, I would love to see data centres as colourful buildings in the community, not as these grey houses we have at the moment. They should have flowers, they should have solar panels on the roofs, they should have a connection, maybe to a hydropower plant, and we should, as a data centre provider, be able to use the excess heat. This is the third wish I have to combine all these topics to use on every data centre, the excess heat, because I think we have a lot of challenges, a lot of other challenges. 

 

[00:35:56.610] - Stefanie Casall 

For example, to get food to get healthy food, why not combining this with a greenhouse where we have our own, I don't know, salads or tomatoes or stuff like this, vegetables like this. So, we cannot avoid the high demand of AI, but we should make this as transparent and as, I don't know, sustainable as we can. So, it's just a combination of all these points I mentioned. That would be great. 

 

[00:36:27.060] - Jon Slowe 

I think that's great framing, I think. Yeah. What do you think, Sandra? 

 

[00:36:31.090] - Sandra Trittin 

If you ask me about my key takeaways, I mean, I'm technologically interested, right. And coming from ten years of telecommunication, there were quite some touch points with data centres as well. But what I found interesting today were two things I want to point out. One was about communication, right. On how important it is to make it simple to understand what's happening in a data centre, what it means, also to be able to incorporate into the local setting. And I really like the picture of a washing machine because then you can think like, okay, I have to build that thing. There needs to go something in, it has to be processed and it goes out and it creates some waste, and everything has to be taken care of. And I think this kind of communication is just helpful. And Stefanie, you were pointing that as well out, right. And the second thing is that data centres are much more than just, let's say, the technology and the way on transporting or processing data, but there are many opportunities around it. And I come back to the extreme example, Stefanie, of the greenhouse, right. So probably we should think about how we can make AQ Compute also into a gardening company, probably to grow tomatoes or anything. No, but even though this might sound funny. Right, but it's more about building up an ecosystem. 

 

[00:38:04.580] - Stefanie Casall 

Exactly. It's very interesting. 

 

[00:38:06.190] - Sandra Trittin 

And building up an ecosystem around specific technologies. And to the point that also Ciaran and Stefanie were both making to make most out of the resources that we are having and to take them in a responsible way. 

 

[00:38:19.870] - Stefanie Casall 

Yes, that's great. That's great. Thank you. 

 

[00:38:22.690] - Sandra Trittin 

How about you, Jon? What's your key takeaways? 

 

[00:38:26.390] - Jon Slowe 

I think often people look for silver bullets, don't they? How can we reduce the impact of a data centre? And the nearest thing to a silver bullet is probably use the waste heat for a good purpose, like a greenhouse or on buildings. But it's not really a silver bullet approach. It's that integrated planning, it's the measuring that hierarchy Ciaran talked about measure, manage, mitigate. And thinking about that integrated planning as an energy centric part of the energy system, a data central as part of the energy system, as Ciaran said. So, they're not these things that are plonked on the end of a network in a grey shed. No one knows what's going on inside, completely separate from everything else. But we integrate them much more into towns, into farming, into the energy system, and celebrate what they do for us all in our daily lives. Yeah, I thought it was fascinating, Sandra. 

 

[00:39:28.780] - Sandra Trittin 

Yes, me too. From a really technical focus, right? Going down to the business models and ecosystem build up. I think that's really great and the value for society. 

 

[00:39:40.550] - Jon Slowe 

So, we better leave it there. Times got the better of us. Thanks, Stefanie. 

 

[00:39:44.960] - Stefanie Casall 

Thank you. 

 

[00:39:45.630] - Jon Slowe 

Thank you, Ciaran, thank you for your time and sharing your thoughts. And thank you as always, to everyone listening and look forward to welcoming you back next week. Soon. Goodbye. 

 

[00:39:55.120] - Sandra Trittin 

Yeah, thank you as well. Bye. 

 

[00:39:57.040] - Sandra Trittin 

Thanks for tuning in. We are excited to bring you captive rating conversations from the leading edge of Europe's energy transition. If you've got suggestions for topics or guests for future episodes, please let us know. 

 

[00:40:08.850] - Jon Slowe 

And if you're enjoying the podcast, then please do rate it and share it with colleagues. For show notes, transcripts and more, please visit lcpdelta.com. 

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