18th July 2022

Another step towards becoming carbon neutral – our migration to HVO

HVO - sustainable fuels for a sustainable future

Datum Datacentres was launched in 2013 with one key aim - to provide the most energy efficient and flexible colo on the market. We all have a responsibility to reduce our local emissions, and data centres have a major role to play. So, from the very beginning, we designed our facility with sustainability at its core and, as part of our net zero operations strategy, have taken steps since our launch to move towards becoming a fully carbon neutral data centre by 2030.

A key advantage of migrating IT infrastructure and workloads to our facility is that our clients can benefit from our ability to buy power at scale and innovate to reduce environmental impact. This is something that companies with on premise data centres often find difficult to do. Our latest step in our sustainability initiative is our migration from red diesel to HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) for our backup generators.

Datum’s green credentials

We have always been ahead of the game in terms of environmental efficiency:

  • Energy-efficient adiabatic cooling. Our free cooling design uses a flooded airflow approach, which can deliver a PUE of 1.2, or less, and significantly reduces our running costs and carbon footprint. These are benefits that we pass on to our clients.
  • Power from renewable sources and carbon offsetting. Our recently renewed power contract continues our use of full carbon offsetting and power from renewable sources (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) have been procured to cover the full supply).

Our acquisition by UBS Asset Management in 2021 added further impetus to our drive to excel in the realm of ESG - our environmental priorities were a key factor in UBS’s decision to acquire our facility. Sustainability is a key part of UBS’s investment lifecycle; its sustainability framework includes pre-acquisition ESG due diligence assessment, and its fund sustainability framework involves ongoing tracking and reporting on the environmental performance of its infrastructure investments.

Ensuring that our power feeds use renewable energy was a major step, but we are committed to ensuring that our entire power stream uses energy from sustainable sources. This is why our backup generators, which are required to provide offline backup power in case of a critical power incident, will now be migrated from the use of red diesel to HVO.

Why HVO?

HVO is one of the world’s purest and greenest fuels. It is a relatively new fuel that is synthesised through the hydrotreatment of vegetable oils. It has some significant benefits over red diesel:

  • It is a fossil-free environmentally friendly alternative to mineral diesel so contributes to a reduction in planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollutants. It eliminates up to 90% of net CO2 and significantly reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter and carbon monoxide emissions.
  • It is FAME (biodiesel)-free so does not attract moisture. Moisture encourages the growth of microbes, mould and bugs. Using HVO means fewer line and filter blockages, and better fuel stability, cold weather performance and shelf life.
  • HVO has excellent low temperature performance, clean combustion, and less chance of waxing in extreme temperatures.
  • HVO is free from aromatics, sulphur and metals, making it an extremely clean-burning fuel.

In the absence of cost advantages to using HVO, our main driver for the switch to HVO is sustainability - this migration to the use of a biofuel is the next logical next step in our journey towards becoming carbon neutral. We have rarely had to call on our generators to provide backup power (in fact, the majority of the hours they run is for maintenance and testing), so our fuel use is low, but needs to be available in case it is ever needed. We will be filling one of our fuel tanks with HVO in the coming weeks and the second will be refilled with HVO, when required. Due to the nature of HVO, it can be added directly to our generator motors meaning there is no need for costly infrastructure replacements.

We are particularly excited to be one of the first data centres in the UK to be making this switch and to be taking another step to reduce our environmental impact, and that of our clients. Keysource, our partner in the design and construction of our Farnborough facility will be overseeing our migration to HVO in the coming weeks. To find out more about partnering with us and benefiting from our environmentally-efficient data centre, please get in touch or book a tour of our facility.

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