Phl data centers called to help shrink carbon emissions

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By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Photo from Schneider Electric Philippines (File)

As the Philippines keeps pace with the data center industry boom in Asia, the issue of environmental sustainability arises and so does the challenge to shrink carbon emissions particularly in the value chain, also known as “Scope 3 emissions.” In recent years, there has been an increase in the establishment of data centers built across Asia.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the establishment of data centers being built across Asia. It is projected that over the next five years, the data center market across Asia will eclipse that of the US. While this is a huge feat, the worry is the amount of energy that the infrastructures consume. To address this matter, countries that are reliant on coal, including the Philippines, have put in place several regulations in an effort to ensure environmental sustainability.

In a 2020 forecast published by Gartner, Inc., worldwide data center infrastructure spending will increase by 6% in 2021. With data centers accounting for 1% of global electricity use, data center operators will face the complex challenge of meeting their needs for increased capacity while simultaneously reducing emissions to meet goals set by their CEOs.

“Currently, data center operators have been predominantly focused on reducing Scope 1 carbon emissions, which are generated directly from their day to day operations, as well as Scope 2 greenhouse gases, which come from the production of electricity that is purchased and consumed. While these are worthy pursuits, greater efficiencies can be realized by targeting value chain emissions, also referred to as Scope 3 emissions. These emissions are generated from partners and suppliers, and often exceed Scopes 1 and 2 emissions combined,” explained Tony Kang, Business Vice President for Secure Power, Schneider Electric Philippines.

While data center operators have become more determined to set new benchmarks in efficiency inside the data center, in order to further their sustainability goals, they must also strategize how to manage their Scope 3 emissions. At the end of the day, it is all part of a sustainability ecosystem that needs to be assessed and addressed with a wider lens.

“Data center operators who are committed to responding to their CEO’s sustainability goals can help shrink carbon emissions by working closely with their suppliers. These efforts have the added benefits of revealing supply chain cost savings, providing margin advantage, and increasing adoption,” added Kang.

To reduce Scope 3 emissions, data center operators should consider the following steps: 

  • Identify the size of the supply chain carbon emissions, establish decarbonization programs and targets, and engage with partners who support those initiatives.
  • Determine a baseline of the suppliers’ carbon footprint. Strategize ways to engage suppliers in understanding their options for curtailing carbon emissions.  
  • Develop strategies to engage and evaluate respective suppliers and partners on using renewable energy. Suppliers should draw on renewables when manufacturing data center construction products or providing products and services. 
  • Support the supply chain in implementing resource-efficient designs. These designs result from product lifecycle analysis that measures the ecological and carbon impact of extracting materials from natural resources and disposing of end-of-life product materials wastefully. Manufacturers evolve designs to use recycled materials and reduce water usage during manufacturing. 
  • Ensure that suppliers accept and recycle their products when they reach end-of-life. Suppliers and other business lines in the economy can repurpose them in new products. 

Schneider Electric, which was recently named among the world’s most sustainable corporations, has developed a wide range of solutions to help companies manage their data centers and run more sustainable operations.

These include infrastructure and digital management systems to support the deployment of IT equipment from small edge applications to large cloud data centers, as well as uninterruptible power sources such as the Galaxy 3-Phase UPS, which can provide excellent power equality in more demanding electrical environments while lowering energy costs. Schneider Electric also provides consultancy services for climate change, sustainability strategy and sustainability reporting, and global supply chain decarbonization.

“In the Philippine setting, it is important that data centers consider these options and take note of the key points mentioned. As the local data center market continues to grow and develop, it is crucial for centers to keep pushing for more sustainable goals and efforts,” stated Kang.

It is also worth noting that there have been government efforts in promoting sustainability. Just last year, the Philippine government declared a moratorium on coal as the country aims to transition from fossil fuels to the utilization of clean energy sources for sustainable growth. In 2021, the Philippine government increased its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 70% to 75% by 2030, under its commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

There is more to be done, and more efforts needed to further efficiency and sustainability, but with the technology available, the goals set, and actions from multiple sectors, the Philippines—from the data centers in the country to the large institutions setting the directions for future development—is moving in the right direction.

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