Study on Greening Cloud Computing and Electronic Communications Services and Networks: towards climate neutrality by 2050

Study on Greening Cloud Computing and Electronic Communications Services and Networks: towards climate neutrality by 2050

The current rapid digital transformation is characterized by an increase in the amount of data to be recorded, processed, stored, and transmitted, entailing an increase in IT infrastructure. This has its ramifications in terms of increased energy and resource consumption. In view of the EU Green Deal and related policy strategies at EU and Member State level, data centres and telecommunications need to become more energy-efficient and climate-friendly. Hence, the digital transformation implies at the same time also a green transformation.

IDEA Consult together with Öko-Institut and Visionary Analytics have finished a study for the European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) which is instrumental for developing policies to advance the greening of data centres and electronic communications networks. More specifically, the objectives of this study were focused on two of the main parts of the ICT-value chain:

  • Data centres and cloud computing: the proposition of policy measures for increasing the energy and resource efficiency of data centres and an assessment of the environmental, social and economic impact, including a taxonomy of data centre definitions, and an analysis of standards, metrics and indicators that are currently used and that could be used;
  • Electronic communications services and networks: the proposition of policy options that could be included in a transparency mechanism on the environmental footprint of electronic communications networks and of criteria for the assessment of the environmental sustainability of new electronic communications networks.

On the basis of careful analyses, and the input from stakeholder feedback via surveys, in-depth interviews, and more prominently from the online workshops, a number of potential and feasible policy measures, options and approaches were proposed.

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