On the occasion of the EU Green Week, with Scaleway, we are launching a strategy to support the environmental transition and prepare the foundations of a new digital economy, thereby cementing our commitments to the environment and to our society.

We have eco-designed, built and have been operating one of the most sustainable data centers in Europe, and we are proud to offer our clients high environmental performance products. Today, we are consolidating our position as a major European public cloud committed to fighting climate change.

Towards the end of 2019, the European Commission (EC) presented the Green Deal roadmap as a response for a sustainable digital transition. While the cloud is still in its first stages of development, it is time—now more than ever—to make forward-thinking decisions in order for the benefits of the new digital economy to trump the harmful ecological, social and health consequences.

Through the optimisations it enables (transport, power supply, mutualized infrastructure), by 2030, digital technology can reduce global CO2 emissions by 20%. For a long time, experts and politicians believed that the digitalisation of our societies would lead to an increase in global electricity consumption. While Internet traffic has increased twelvefold since 2010, the International Energy Agency notes that the electric energy consumption of data centers has remained stable: 200 TWh in 2019, about 0.8% of global power consumption, which can be explained by a general gain in network efficiency and web hosting shifting to the cloud and renewable energies.

The digital sector is currently responsible for 2% of France’s greenhouse gas emissions (1). If no action is taken, this figure could triple by 2040. While an awareness of the digital sector’s environmental impact has largely been reached in France, there is still a lack of awareness regarding the extent to which data centers need to make changes. Globally, data centers are likely to consume around 205 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2018 (2), or 1 percent of global electricity use. There is a rush on the part of many data centers, even those lauded for their efforts, to be labelled as energy efficient. Yet, this leads to dangerous practices which must disappear like the thoughtless waste of millions of cubic meters of drinking water in cooling towers to cool data centers, and wasting avoidably 30-40% of data center energy on cooling alone.


At Scaleway, we innovate where sustainable actions count most – at the source.

The environmental responsibility of this industry now needs to be focused on these mutually dependent pillars: the supply and intrinsic energy efficiency of data centers, and water usage and preservation. By making the right ethical, regulatory and technological choices, the benefits of global digitalization will not be outweighed by damaging ecological impacts. We are committed to dealing with the subject at the source by measuring all of our activities with a weighted indicator.

We are determined to become the most efficient and most transparent cloud worldwide. Our commitments cover four key strategic areas:

  • Controlling energy and water consumption with a weighted index that goes well beyond the simple PUE indicator
  • Advocating for water conservation and efficiency
  • Defending the circular economy
  • Raising awareness around transparency and empowering our clients with line-by-line usage and environmental impact on each invoice by 2021

Scaleway wants to take it further than the straightforward norms of an environmental strategy which include carbon-neutrality. So much more is possible, with common sense, forward-thinking policies and innovation. We want to take the cloud to the next level and we commit to implementing an environmentally efficient policy across the board by offering responsible products and services, and implementing proactive measures to optimize the impacts of our clients’ activities, too.

New indicator for a weighted consumption: rDCE (Real Data Center Efficiency)

Control energy and water consumption with a weighted index that goes well beyond the simple PUE indicator

We are stepping up the ambition to drastically lower our environmental impact by 2025, in line with our strategy since our creation. This commitment is compatible with the Paris Agreement’s aim to limit global warming to 2°C by 2050, and the European Commission’s Green Deal roadmap for 2030. Even though we have already been powering our data centers with 100% renewable energy since 2017, mainly using hydropower (3), we are actively working on our environmental policies and we commit to banning all products which have a harmful impact on the ozone layer, create greenhouse gases and are toxic, as well as the use of Chlorodifluoromethane.

And as of today, we set our own ambitious PUE (4) objective of <1.15 for all new data centers built after 2018, and 1.3 for all previously constructed data centers, and we want to go beyond this indicator and integrate water usage and efficiency into the equation.

It is unacceptable that today, in 2020, we still omit water consumption from the equation when calculating a data center’s responsibility and efficiency. Thus, our approach consists in combining the PUE and the WUE, to relate them to each other and to the actual use of each in data centers. The rDCE is measured in megawatt hours (MWh), and used to weight the PUE and the WUE measurements in relation to distributed uses, not in relation to the most efficient datacenter, which would be too easy and misleading. The average of the two is taken to calculate the real Data Center Efficiency. This is how we define the rDCE indicator, or real Data Center Efficiency:

rDCE = (ePUE + eWUE) ➗ 2 = (1,37 + 0,01) ➗ 2 = 0,69

We will be publishing this metric for all our data centers each year, with the goal of steadily lowering it through innovation and investment. We invite all industry players to join us in this radical transparency.

Advocating for water conservation and efficiency

The near-unwavering focus of the industry on energy performance has led to other key factors in environmental performance, such as water efficiency, being neglected. For Scaleway, our WUE (Water Usage Effectiveness) is a crucial indicator of our environmental impact. As the first cloud provider to bring the use of water in data centers to the conversation, Scaleway bans practices which consume high quantities of water and present health risks such as water cooling towers, and aims to have a WUE lower than 0.15 (5) (market average at 1.8) as of today.

Defending the circular economy and banning toxic products

Scaleway is committed to creating a restorative and regenerative circular economy with partners such as Loxy. This socially responsible company ensures 100% of its hardware components are reused and recycled. In this manner, Scaleway aims to extend the life cycle of equipment to up to 10 years (a standard equipment life cycle is usually between three and five years) through reuse and repair.

Raising awareness around transparency and empowering our clients with line-by-line usage and environmental impact on each invoice by 2021

We are working to expand our transparency policy and fully empower our clients with information: by 2021 we will include line-by-line resource usage and will share the environmental impact on each invoice.

We hope this is a stepping stone toward a more sustainable industry. We call on the industry to #ComeGreen  and follow our model, especially with regard to banning water cooling towers and bringing more transparency to the market. It's what makes sense!


To find out more: https://www.scaleway.com/en/environmental-leadership/

Notes:

1. According to work mandated by the French Senate.
2. Masanet, Eric, Arman Shehabi, Nuoa Lei, Sarah Smith, And Jonathan Koomey. “Recalibrating Global Data Center Energy-Use Estimates.” Science 367, No. 6481 (2020): 984-986.
3. Hydropower is electricity generated in hydroelectric power stations, through the force of water… It is the biggest source of renewable power worldwide.
4. This energy effectiveness indicator is commonly used to qualify data center energy efficiency. It was developed by the Green Grid Consortium, and PUE indicates the ratio between total energy consumed by a data center and its equipment (servers).
5. DataCenter Knowledge
6. According to Gartner (2016).