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The Advantages of New European Data Centre Locations and Upcoming Regulations Impacting the EU Territories [Feature Article]

As we approach the dawn of a new year, JSA Europe has hosted a series of roundtables to assess the changing landscape of the data centre industry in Europe. With the rise of new geographic locations and impending regulations, the industry is poised for significant transformation. 

Historically, the primary data centre hubs such as Frankfurt, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Dublin have commanded the lion’s share of investment and development. These cities, often referred to as the FLAP-D markets, have established robust digital infrastructure and connectivity, making them attractive destinations for data centre professionals. However, the industry is now witnessing a shift towards secondary locations.

Cities like Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, and Milan are emerging as new hotspots for data centre investments. These secondary locations offer the advantage of lower land and power costs compared to their tier-one counterparts. Additionally, they are strategically located to serve local markets and have less competition, making them promising destinations for future growth.

The Nordic region, renowned for its sustainable energy sources and cool climate, is also gaining attention. The region’s favourable conditions are particularly suited to the high-power demands of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning workloads, making it an attractive destination for data centre operators.

 

The Impact of Upcoming Regulations

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a new regulation that mandates businesses to disclose their environmental and social performance. This directive, which commences in 2024, presents a unique opportunity for data centre operators to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. By adhering to the CSRD, operators can track their performance across various sustainability metrics and make necessary improvements.

The Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) is another key regulation that aims to improve energy efficiency across all sectors, including data centres. By implementing energy-efficient measures, operators can reduce their operational costs and contribute to reducing Europe’s overall energy consumption.

The ban on sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), a potent greenhouse gas used in electrical equipment, poses a significant challenge to the industry. Operators will need to explore alternatives, such as vacuum technology, to comply with this ban.

 

The Future of Data Centres in Europe

AI is poised to revolutionise the data centre industry. By automating various operational tasks, AI can enhance efficiency and reduce human error. Moreover, the high-power demands of AI workloads will necessitate the construction of data centres with massive power capacities, potentially in the gigawatt scale.

Sustainability and energy efficiency will continue to be key drivers for the industry. Operators will need to explore innovative solutions, such as heat recovery and reuse, to achieve their sustainability goals. Furthermore, they will need to redesign their facilities to accommodate evolving cooling and power demands.

As new regulations come into effect, operators will need to adapt their strategies accordingly. This may involve redesigning their facilities, investing in sustainable technologies, and enhancing their reporting mechanisms.

The European data centre industry is on the brink of a significant transformation. Operators who can adapt to the changing landscape and seize the opportunities presented by new locations and regulations will be well-positioned to succeed in the new era.

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