The data center sector: a growing, green industry

The data center sector is an example of an industry that is ‘future proof’: it fully runs on electrical energy and almost exclusively on green power. Furthermore, data centers generate huge efficiency benefits by bringing together and concentrating digital equipment in one place.

As a result of the professional exploitation of data center facilities, large amounts of energy are saved in comparison with on-premise IT. Due to economies of scale, specialization and state of the art technology, data centers can handle energy very efficiently. Without data centers, the Dutch economy and society would use more than twice the amount of energy than is currently being used.

Sustainable energy potential

Almost all of the electricity consumed by data centers is converted into heat.The concentration of online services in a data center therefore offers a large, hitherto hardly utilized energy potential.The utilization of the green excess heat generated by data centers is a logical step towards a fully circular economy.

Reuse of green waste heat

The waste heat, generated by green and renewable energy sources, can be reused as high-quality, low-caloric heat to warm houses, of ces and greenhouses. Furthermore, industrial processes can be made sustainable quicker. By reusing the heat that data centers generate, it will be possible to achieve CO2 reduction targets faster, we will accelerate the transition to sustainable energy use and we will need less natural gas.

Low caloric heat networks

Data centers connected to heat networks are already a reality in several places in the Netherlands. However, to make use of the full potential we need to build more heat networks, ideally low caloric. We have found this to be a challenge. Because even though there is a business case available, there are still risks that need to be mitigated. Incentives are needed to cross the threshold and to get up to speed.

Free energy

The DDA aims to initiate/accelerate a concerted effort to make use of waste heat, which for the Netherlands can lead to millions of GJs of energy preservation.Therefore, we have offered our waste heat for free. On behalf of the Dutch data centers, we at DDA propose that the use of waste heat will be an important item on the agenda of all relevant stakeholders, not the least the Dutch government. Next, we need to further improve energy efficiency policies in order to meet the goals of the Paris climate accords.

Eline Stuivenwold

Managing a variety of projects at Dutch Data Center Association. Feel free to contact me at