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International utility E.ON has commissioned a new study to prepare itself for the drastic growth in energy demand for data centres in Germany through 2025.

The study was compiled by RWTH Aachen University and suggests that the recent introduction of the 5G communications standard will result in a huge increase in energy demand for data centres.

5G is expected to increase the energy requirements for data centres by up to 3.8TWh by 2025, enough energy to power 2.5 million people in Cologne, Dusseldorf and Dortmund for an entire year.

The increase in the construction of data centres is expected to meet the growing demand for data processing for:

  • Companies which are building their own mobile radio networks.
  • Intelligent factories to enable self-propelled robots to communicate with machines and exchange information.
  • Consumers, who will leverage 5G to watch movies in real-time rather than downloading them.

According to the study:

  • To date, 13 billion kWh of energy is converted into heat in German data centres – which has simply been released into the environment unused.
  • Only 19% of data centres use part of their waste heat, most of which is channelled into their own buildings for heating and hot water, according to the study
  • Up to 8TWh of waste heat will be available by 2025.

To meet the rising energy demand, E.ON:

  • Is making rising energy consumption climate-friendly.
  • Examining the power grids close to Frankfurt, a veritable hotspot for data centres, with the aim of securing supply, even if consumption increases significantly.

E.ON's subsidiary Syna has commissioned a transformer station that is designed for the equivalent of 160,000 households to secure the power supply of planned data centres in the region.

  • Developed a heating and cooling network system that operates at extremely low temperatures, is controlled by algorithms and intelligently connects various producers and consumers of heat and cold.
  • To raise awareness and ensure digitisation is environmentally friendly, E.ON is launching Green Internet Day on 8 January 2020. The firm will stop its usual activities on the Internet and on social media channels.

E.ON board member Karsten Wildberger, said: “Digitisation means more data, more computing capacity, more data centres. Each and every data centre consumes huge amounts of electricity. By 2030, up to 13% of the world's power requirements will be consumed by data centres. We need a sustainable energy supply for that. Today, we can achieve this in an environmentally friendly, economical way.

“We are supplying data centres with clean energy or building highly efficient, decentralised generation facilities on site, such as combined heat and power plants or fuel cells – often combined with PV systems or wind energy.”

The study is available for download here.