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German data centers become more efficient

Whether in industry, transport or administration, whether in the world of work or in everyday life: increasing digitization has led to further growth in data centers in Germany.
E3 Magazine
4 October 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

For example, the industry will see a 90 percent increase in IT connectivity between 2012 and 2022. Cloud services in particular are driving growth. Electricity demand has also increased. In 2022, it totaled 18 billion kilowatt hours - up from 11 billion kWh in 2012. At the same time, data center operators are supporting the climate goals of the German government and the path toward more sustainable and, in perspective, CO2-neutral operations. Computing power has increased significantly more than the demand for energy due to the further development of hardware and software, among other things: The efficiency of data centers has increased six-fold overall in recent years as a result. These are the findings of the current Bitkom study "Data Centers in Germany: Current Market Developments - Update 2023," which was conducted by the Borderstep Institute.

Global growth

Data centers are not only growing in Germany, but worldwide. In 2022, the global server inventory amounted to around 85.6 million units. In 2015, the figure was 58.8 million. Germany's share of the global server inventory fell slightly from 3.5 percent to 3 percent in the same period. The majority of servers are located in the USA and China. In Germany, growth is primarily driven by the increasing expansion of cloud computing: 89 percent of companies in Germany now use cloud applications - cloud data center capacities have almost doubled in the past five years.

Germany's most important location for data centers continues to be the state of Hesse, in particular the Frankfurt/Main area with DE-CIX as Europe's largest network node. Just under a third of German data center capacity is located there, and compared with the other top locations in Europe, Frankfurt is currently growing fastest. Berlin follows behind. Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia are also interesting for data center operators.

Data center capacity almost doubled in ten years. Capacities of data centers and small IT installations (IT power in MW). Source: Bitkom.

Sustainable digitization

Bitkom CEO Dr. Bernhard Rohleder: "Data centers are the control centers of sustainable digitization. Video conferences instead of business trips, smart heating control in buildings, intelligent traffic control or automated processes in industrial manufacturing - with the help of digitization, energy consumption and CO2 emissions can be reduced on a large scale." The potential CO2 savings from digitization are several times higher than its own CO2 emissions, as the Bitkom study "Climate Effects of Digitization" shows.

Waste heat recovery

Bitkom is in favor of Germany following the EU's approach and requiring all new data centers to conduct a cost-benefit assessment of waste heat utilization. The use of waste heat from data centers makes sense, but is unrealistic without corresponding consumers and the necessary infrastructures. The green electricity mix also needs to be promoted more strongly politically - requirements for the purchase of green electricity can only be effective if there is a sufficient supply of green electricity. Rohleder: "Germany needs powerful and secure data centers. Data center operators in Germany expressly support the goal of further improving their energy balance and making digitization climate-friendly." (pmf)

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