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NEXTDC debuts carbon-neutral colocation service

Australian datacentre operator will buy carbon offsets to help organisations reduce their carbon footprint through a new colocation service

Australian datacentre provider NEXTDC has unveiled the country’s first carbon-neutral colocation service to help organisations reduce their carbon footprint.

Dubbed NEXTneutral, the service involves the purchase of carbon offsets under NEXTDC’s partnership with Qantas Future Planet, a sustainability initiative spearheaded by Qantas and Tasman Environmental Markets.

The carbon offsets will be used to fund ecological projects, such as restoring wetlands and rainforests impacted by commercial development, protecting pristine habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef, and supporting indigenous culture and traditional sustainable land management practices such as cool fire burning. 

NEXTDC said this will remove the complexity associated with carbon offsetting, making it easy for organisations to make a difference in mitigating the impact of digitisation on the environment. 

The company has also invested in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and is the first datacentre operator in Australia to achieve 100% carbon neutrality across its corporate operations under the federal government’s climate active programme.

“Today, the datacentre industry is supporting an enormous boom in technology and information creation, all of which are powered by computers and global networks that consume significant amounts of electricity,” said Craig Scroggie, CEO of NEXTDC.

“We remain focused on the overall efficiency of our datacentres, demonstrated through our Nabers five-star efficiency ratings, and contributing to the global efforts in managing climate change.”

David Young, executive manager for sustainability and future planet at Qantas, noted the important role that carbon offsets play in mitigating the environmental impact of energy use and that NEXTneutral shows how big data can have a carbon-neutral footprint.

Besides datacentre providers, hyperscale cloud suppliers have also doubled down on sustainability initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. In Australia, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has embarked on renewable energy projects, including a 105MW solar farm in New South Wales.

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AWS has a long-term goal to use 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030 across its datacentres. It also hopes to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040.

Cushing Anderson, programme vice-president at IDC, said the idea of green IT has been around for years, but the impact of hyperscale computing on carbon emissions is being noticed by businesses, regulators and investors and is starting to factor into buying decisions.

But Anderson said that while carbon neutrality can be achieved using carbon offsets, designing datacentres from the ground up to be carbon neutral will be the real measure of contribution.

“And for advanced cloud providers, matching workloads with renewable energy availability will further accelerate their sustainability goals,” he added.

Reducing wasted energy use will also play a critical role in lowering carbon emissions. This is usually done by optimising datacentre facilities so that more power goes to the IT equipment than the cooling systems.

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