Complying With the EU's New (and Evolving) Data Centre Reporting Regulations

Complying With the EU’s New (and Evolving) Data Centre Reporting Regulations

EU regulations on sustainability and energy consumption continually evolve, and data centres are a particular area of focus. This year, 2024, new regulations come into force that require data centre operators in Europe to report sustainability metrics. The new rules are part of the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and are just the first phase. In other words, there is more to come from the EU on data centre energy use and sustainability.

What do the new regulations mean for data centres? The first and most obvious impact is the new reporting requirements (more details on those requirements are outlined below).

However, there is also the reality that continuing as normal in regard to energy consumption and sustainability is unlikely to be an option. More stringent regulations will be introduced by the EU in the near future, so data centre operators should start implementing systems and initiatives that will enable compliance.

It’s not only about compliance, either, as reducing energy consumption and operating more sustainably also has a range of business benefits.

The Background to the EU’s Evolving Data Centre Sustainability Regulations

Data centres account for nearly three percent of EU electricity demand. That figure is expected to go above three percent by 2030 unless action is taken. The new regulations for data centres are part of the EU’s goal to reduce energy consumption by 11.7 percent by 2030.

When we look at Ireland specifically, the energy consumption figures are considerably higher than the EU average. Data centres consumed 17 percent of Ireland’s electricity supply in 2022 and Eirgrid predicts this will rise to almost 26 percent by 2026.

Whether in Ireland or any other country in the EU, the aim of the new regulations is to increase transparency and “promote new designs and efficiency developments in data centres”.

The EU’s New Data Centre Reporting Obligations

Data centre operators must publish information on energy and sustainability performance to a new central EU database. The first submission must be made by 15 September 2024, with annual submissions by 15 May every year thereafter. The reporting rules apply to data centres with a capacity of 500 kW or above.

The metrics that must be reported include floorspace, power usage effectiveness (PUE), water use, energy reuse, and renewable energy use.

Other provisions in the new regulations include a requirement for some data centres to utilise waste heat and integrate renewable energy sources. Data centre operators must also implement measures that will reduce energy consumption.

The new regulations also include a rating system for data centres, with ratings based on the information submitted to the database.

As indicated earlier, further revisions to the EU’s EED are expected as early as May 2025. Those revisions are likely to place additional compliance requirements on data centre operators.

The Challenges of Compliance

Complying with the new rules presents challenges to data centres, both with the regulations as they are now and when they evolve:

  • One of the aims of the new legislation is to improve sustainability and reduce energy consumption but the rules don’t outline how this should be achieved. That is left to data centre operators themselves.
  • Many data centre operations don’t systematically collect the data that soon needs to be reported to the new EU database.
  • We know the regulations are evolving as the EU has said this is the first phase, but we don’t know what the additional requirements will be.

The Benefits of Compliance

While there are challenges to compliance, there are also benefits – direct business benefits:

  • Enhanced reputation, especially when the EU introduces the rating system that is part of the new regulations.
  • Reduced energy and related costs that will deliver long-term returns for your business.
  • Improved competitiveness with a more cost-effective and energy-efficient operation.

The Role of Digital Twins in Data Centre Sustainability Compliance

Data is a crucial component of complying with the newly introduced regulations and any new rules that will be implemented in the future. You need accurate data to meet your upcoming reporting obligations and data will be crucial for identifying and implementing sustainability improvements.

A data centre digital twin is an accurate, interactive, 3D digital representation of your data centre that can include all the information that is required to meet your energy consumption reporting requirements. You can also use the digital twin to improve the sustainability of your operations for both business and compliance reasons.

Read more about data centre digital twins on our blog, including how they deliver not only compliance benefits but also tangible returns on investment. To discuss your specific requirements and how we can support your data centre with the creation of a digital twin, get in touch with us today.