Data Centre Alliance hits out at government CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme

The UK government’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme does not help datacentres become more efficient, says Data Centre Alliance

The UK government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme does not help datacentres become more efficient, according to Adriaan Oosthoek (pictured), vice-president of not-for-profit industry association Data Centre Alliance.

“The CRC scheme is just a tax on datacentres, rather than being a strategic regulation that can help datacentre facilities become more efficient and reduce their carbon footprint,” he told Computer Weekly.

Oosthoek added that a majority of the members of the Data Centre Alliance, including providers such as Telecity Group and Digital Realty, as well as organisations that run their own datacentres, such as the Co-Operative Banking Group, Scottish and Southern Electric datacentre, and Leeds University, among others, think it is just a levy on IT’s energy use.

“We welcome carbon reduction schemes,” he said, "but the schemes must be such that they incentivise datacentres to become more efficient, not make operations more expensive.”

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme introduced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in 2010, is a mandatory UK-wide trading scheme which covers large business and public sector organisation that produce 12% of UK carbon emissions.

The scheme requires businesses to report on and pay a tax on energy used. It ranks businesses in a performance league table which provides a further reputational incentive to improve their energy efficiency.

The CRC is expected to deliver carbon savings of 21 MtCO2 (Metric Tonne Carbon Dioxide) by 2027, according to the DECC.

Oosthoek added that the CRC scheme in its current form iscomplicated and “unfair” on datacentre operators

“The original principal of the scheme sounded fair, but in its current form it is not helping datacentre operators,” he said.

The original scheme involved penalising businesses for bad performance and offering recycling payments for those using energy efficiently.

However, the current scheme looks at a business’s total use of energy and the size of carbon footprint without taking into account how efficiently that energy is used within a datacentre, said Oosthoek.

Others experts agreed. “The original idea was good, with several flaw that needed to be sorted out. The way it ended up was just a case of the government saying ‘we need some more money – hand it over’,” said Clive Longbottom, datacentre energy expert at analyst firm Quocirca.

“It is now a pure tax – other than trying to save the amount that is paid, there is no real incentive to work hard at reducing your carbon footprint,” he said.

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