Volkswagen AG aims to make data centres climate-neutral by 2027

Volkswagen AG has announced a goal of making its data centre operations net carbon-neutral by 2027 by expanding its computing capacities at Green Mountain, a Norwegian operator of CO₂-neutral data centres where all the servers run on 100 percent renewable electricity generated by hydropower and are cooled naturally by the adjacent fjord.
Volkswagen AG aims to make data centres climate-neutral by 2027
Courtesy of NREL.

With this expansion, one quarter of Volkswagen’s global data centre operations will run carbon-neutrally. This corresponds to annual CO₂ savings of 10,000 tons. The 2027 target would be three years earlier than foreseen in the European Green Deal, under which European data centre operators agreed to make their data centres climate-neutral by 2030.

“Green IT is a key topic on our ESG agenda” said Hauke Stars, Member of the Volkswagen Board of Management, IT and Digitalisation. “While technology is the key driver for more efficiency, an improved customer experience, and new business models, IT accounts for about 3 percent of global CO₂ emissions. Given the rising demand for computing power and data storage to enable Volkswagen Group’s NEW AUTO strategy, a sustainable IT roadmap with ambitious goals is paramount to systematically reduce our carbon footprint. With data centres being the biggest contributor of carbon emissions in IT, expanding our computing capacity at Green Mountain is a strong lever to make our data centre operations carbon-neutral by 2027.”

The cooperation with Green Mountain started back in June 2019, when Volkswagen Group opened its data centre operations at Green Mountain's RJU1-Rjukan site in Telemark, Norway. The goal was to outsource non time-critical, high-performance computing projects like crash-test simulations to free up capacity in Volkswagen Group’s data centres at the headquarters needed for critical business applications. In total, Volkswagen Group has six data centre operations worldwide, three in Wolfsburg, two in Norway, one in Singapore.

With Volkswagen AG’s latest expansion to Green Mountain’s SVG1-Rennesøy data centre, one quarter of the Group’s global computing power requirements will run carbon-neutrally. This corresponds to annual CO₂ savings of 10,000 tons. The renewable power used for Volkswagen’s data centre operation at Green Mountain would be sufficient to provide 500 households with green electricity for one year.

For the new site at SVG1-Rennesøy, Green Mountain converted a former high security NATO ammunition storage facility into a unique 22,600 m² high-security mountain hall colocation data centre. The infrastructure has been designed to be expanded up to 2 x 26 MW, with Volkswagen using 3 MW of capacity. For the cooling, which in traditional data centres accounts for an 40 percent to 80 percent of the electricity required to power the servers, SVG1-Rennesøy takes advantage of the adjacent deep-water fjord reaching 100 metres, with a constant water temperature of 8 degrees Celsius all year round.

In Norway, 98.9 percent of the electricity production is renewable, with the majority generated from hydropower. Hydropower has both a minimal carbon footprint as well as marginal ecological impact. The Norwegian government vigorously promotes the utilisation of power from renewable energy sources for new branches of industry, for example, in climate-neutral data centres. Tax breaks, low energy prices and stable political conditions make Norway an ideal location for green IT.

Volkswagen AG was the first automaker to commit to the Paris climate agreement back in 2018. By 2050, the company aims to be net CO₂ neutral. In its core business, the Group intends to achieve a 30 percent CO2 reduction by 2030. Currently, more than 90 percent of Volkswagen AG’s external power supply for its European manufacturing sites already comes from renewable energies.

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