Corporate Net Zero Pathways: New large-scale IDCs in China shall meet a PUE below 1.3 by 2025. Will carbon footprint become the next reference indicator?

On August 25, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), NDRC, and five other ministries jointly issued the Action Plan of Green and Low-Carbon Development of the Information and Communications Industry (2022-2025) (hereafter Action Plan). The Action Plan underlines the green and low carbon requirements for internet data centers (IDC) and information and communications technology (ICT) industries in China. Some interpretations on the key messages for IDCs in China:

a) IDC PUEs (Power Use Efficiency) and WUEs (Water Use Efficiency) must be improved:
  • By 2025, the power utilization efficiency (PUE) of new large and super large data centers nationwide will be reduced to less than 1.3.
  • Advanced technologies for energy efficiency and water conservancy shall be adopted, such as liquid cooling.

IT equipment’s energy efficiency shall be further enhanced.

b) The national strategic layout of IDCs is reiterated:

The “Eastern data – Western computation” national strategic layout, integration and coordination of IDCs in cluster provinces and remote centers are all reiterated. Specific requirements include:

  • The areas surrounding 1st tier cities are encouraged to construct hot data (frequently used data) clusters to support the cities’ needs.
  • The data centers for high latency services shall be deployed in national computing hubs with suitable climate and rich renewable energy sources.
c) IDCs should boost their green energy consumption:
  • Enterprises will be encouraged to actively use green electricity. The channels of green electricity procurements will be improved.
  • Relevant regulators will establish a green electricity carbon emission offset mechanism
  • Power users will be encouraged to consume green electricity through onsite captive new energy, self-built direct lines with nearby projects (see previous article: The key takeaways of the New Energy Direct Power Supply policies), bilateral transactions, purchase of green electricity certificates, etc. Proportion of green electricity will be gradually increased in the overall energy consumption.
  • The integration and application of new energy storage technologies and power supply and distribution technologies will be promoted in IDCs.

Starting from 2022, CO2 emissions reporting and verification in the IDC industry is required by the Beijing Bureau of Ecology and Environment. For the time being, Beijing government will allocate carbon emissions quota for datacenters based on the IDC industrial emissions benchmark.

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