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Digitalization and Sustainability go hand in hand

With the growing number of data centers, energy consumption and CO2 emissions are increasing too. Data centers use energy 24 hours a day, so data centers must handle their energy consumption better with sustainable cooling systems and reusable residual heat.
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Digitalization in Rotterdam

The “Economische Verkenning” (EVR) provides insight into important data regarding the economy of Rotterdam. The municipality works with partners, researchers, and scientists to gather the data. According to the EVR (2019), Rotterdam is moving away from a port economy to a service economy, with the IT sector growing by about 8% (2016-2018).

Research by Rotterdam–The Hague Metropolitan Region (2019) has shown that it can positively grow its data exchange infrastructure. Most data centers in the Netherlands are located in the Amsterdam region, making the greater Amsterdam area vulnerable to power outages and space limitations. Many companies set aside their data storage independently in data centers in different regions as a backup.

The study concludes that it would be advisable for the South Holland region to develop a “twin hub.” According to Barbara Kathmann, a PvdA alderman in Rotterdam, there is a need for more data centers in the region:

"Digitalization is an essential precondition for sustainability within our economy. Without good digital infrastructure, there can be no development of smart and sustainable solutions. In the coming years, I encourage and support SMEs, new entrepreneurship, and digitization by launching three action programs in 2019: Startup Rotterdam, New Entrepreneurship, and Next Delta."

How digitalization can contribute to a sustainable economy

The more data centers, the higher the energy consumption. Rotterdam, with its focus on sustainability, would seem wary of taking such a challenge on. However, building more data centers offers opportunities for stimulating a circular economy, within which residues are fully reusable

"To make us even more resilient, I would support the new digital and circular economy and invest in SMEs and digitalization in the coming years."

The municipality of Rotterdam is working on various projects to stimulate sustainability, focusing on CO2 reduction, air quality, green energy, and saving energy. The objective is for Rotterdam to generate more sustainable energy than the city uses by 2030.

The municipality conducts talks with residents and companies to discuss how Rotterdam should deal with the city’s future and become more sustainable with significant energy savings. Smartdc regularly takes part in those talks.

Reusing residual heat

Heat is a beneficial residual product of the Rotterdam industry for creating new energy, which unfortunately is now wasted too often. In a circular economy, residual heat would be reused, and the goal of the municipality of Rotterdam is to supply it to the residents. This way, we prevent extra combustion of gas in the city, improve air quality, and lower CO2 emissions.

Smartdc investigates the possibilities for reusing residual heat

A large part of the power consumption of data centers contributes to generating heat. Up to now, this heat has not been reused. According to Marc Gauw of the Dutch Data Center Association (DDA), there is excellent potential in reusing residual heat:

"Residual heat from data centers has the potential to heat more than one million households. It's a wonderful opportunity that we as an industry and society must use to accelerate the energy transition."

Smartdc is currently in talks with the Van Nelle factory to investigate whether the residual heat of the data center can be used here.

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