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Kao Data claims UK first with push to ditch diesel for biofuel in datacentre backup generators

Harlow-based colocation player claims its on course to become the first datacentre operator in the UK to ditch diesel in favour of biofuel in its backup power generators

Kao Data claims to be on course to become the first datacentre in the UK to swap its diesel-based backup generators for ones powered by an alternative, vegetable oil-based fuel in a bid to cut its carbon emissions.

The Harlow-based colocation provider, whose campus is home to the UK’s fastest supercomputer – Cambridge-1, claims the decision to ditch its diesel generators in favour of ones powered by hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) will result in a 90% reduction in the carbon emissions generated by its backup power infrastructure.

“Kao Data will replace an initial 45,000 litres of diesel and switch to an HVO provision of more than 750,000 litres [of HVO] when the campus is fully developed,” the company said in a statement.

As well as being a greener alternative to diesel, HVO also brings reliability benefits, said Kao Data, in that it is not susceptible to microbial growth, which – in diesel-based backup systems – can lead to the creation of sludge that contaminates fuel lines and results in system shutdowns. It also has a shelf-life that is 10 times longer than diesel.

“HVO fuel is dramatically better for the environment compared to traditional, mineral diesels. It is 100% renewable, biodegradable, sustainable and non-toxic,” said Simon Lawford, technical sales manager at Crown Oil, the fuel supplier working with Kao Data on the project.

“We’re proud to have worked with Kao Data to initiate a first-of-its-kind project, which will be transformative for the datacentre industry and help point the way forward for significant reductions in industrial greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“This [deployment of HVO-powered backup generators] eliminates fossil fuels from our datacentre operations and ... shows how our industry can take a simple and highly beneficial step forward for the good of the environment, ahead of COP26”
Gérard Thibault, Kao Data

Kao Data will work with Crown Oil to ensure every backup generator at its campus is powered by HVO, in support of Kao Data’s overarching aim to become a net-zero carbon generating datacentre by 2030.

The work to-date has already seen Kao Data work to ensure its facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy, while also relying on refrigerant-free indirect evaporative cooling technologies to regulate the temperature of its campus.

Kao Data chief technology officer Gérard Thibault said the deployment of HVO-powered backup generators at its site was a “key step” in its push to achieve its net-zero goals.

“This move effectively eliminates fossil fuels from our datacentre operations, and helps us reduce Scope 3 emissions in our customers’ supply chain, while delivering no degradation to the service they receive,” he added. “Most importantly, it shows how our industry can take a simple and highly beneficial step forward for the good of the environment, ahead of COP26.”

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