Volkswagen Group, carbon neutral data centers by 2027

Volkswagen Group, carbon neutral data centers by 2027

The first step towards carbon neutrality for what concerns data center operations by 2027 is the expansion of the collaboration between the Volkswagen Group and the Norwegian company Green Mountain, which is already carbon neutral.

The Volkswagen Group's decarbonization strategy covers every aspect of the business, with a holistic view. The plan also applies to data centers, large digital repositories where applications, data and information are stored in the form of bits. The Group's goal is to reduce the CO2 emissions of all its data centers to zero by 2027 - three years earlier than foreseen in the European Green Deal, under which European data center operators have committed to making them climate neutral by 2030.

To achieve this goal, the Volkswagen Group has taken an important first step by expanding its data center operations at Green Mountain, a Norwegian operator which is already carbon neutral: the servers are 100% powered by renewable energy generated by hydroelectric power plants and cooled naturally using water from the adjacent fjord.


Carbon neutral

"Green IT is a key topic for sustainability, as the IT sector accounts for about 3% of global CO2 emissions", explains Hauke Stars, Volkswagen Group Member of the Board of Management, IT and Digitalization.

The NEW AUTO strategy calls for greater needs in terms of computing power and data storage and, in parallel, a sustainable IT roadmap with ambitious goals to reduce the carbon footprint. "In the IT sector, data centers are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions, so expanding our computing capacity with Green Mountain is a key step in achieving our 2027 goal" Stars concludes. The collaboration with Green Mountain started back in June 2019, when Volkswagen Group opened its data center operations at the RJU1-Rjukan site in Telemark, Norway.

High-performance computing

At the beginning of the collaboration, Green Mountain's servers hosted high-performance computing projects with a low urgency rate, such as crash test simulations, to free up computing capacity in data centers located at Volkswagen Group headquarters, which in total operates six data centers worldwide: three in Wolfsburg, two in Norway, and one in Singapore.

Now, with the expansion of operations at Green Mountain’s SVG1-Rennesøy data center, 25% of the German Group's computing power will run carbon neutrally, using an amount of renewable energy that would suffice for 500 households for a year and amounting to an annual CO2 savings of 10,000 tons.


Under a mountain

To build the new SVG1-Rennesøy site, Green Mountain converted a former NATO ammunition storage facility into a 22,600 m² high-security data center located under a mountain.

The infrastructure was designed to be expanded up to 2 x 26 MW; Volkswagen Group uses 3 MW of capacity. For cooling, which in traditional data centers accounts for a 40% to 80% of the electricity needed to power the servers, the SVG1-Rennesøy site takes advantage of the adjacent fjord, which with its 100-meter-deep water has a constant water temperature of 8 °C all year round.


Norway produces 98.9% of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly hydropower. This energy has both a minimal carbon footprint and marginal ecological impact. The Norwegian government promotes the utilization of power from renewable energy sources for new industries, such as zero-emission data centers, through tax breaks. In addition, low energy prices and stable political conditions make Norway an ideal location for Green IT.

The Volkswagen Group was the first automaker to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement back in 2018. By 2050, the Company aims to be carbon neutral. In its core business, the Group aims to achieve a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Today, more than 90% of the Volkswagen Group's external power supply for its European production sites comes from renewable energy.

Source: Volkswagen Newsroom

VGI | Responsible OU: VP | Creation date: article date | Class 9.1

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