nLighten introduces Integrated CFE Score for Edge data centres

nLighten introduces Integrated CFE Score for Edge data centres

This new metric, developed in cooperation with FEEM, enables the company to measure and report on the full 24/7 carbon free energy usage of its Edge data centres.

nLighten, a digital infrastructure platform and a frontrunner in the European data centre market, has introduced an extension to the already established Carbon Free Energy (CFE) metric. The new indicator measures the percentage of carbon free energy supplied and consumed on an hourly basis to assist with the inclusion of heat recovery in energy reporting.

With this innovative metric, nLighten is on the path to setting new standards in sustainability reporting for the data centre industry.

nLighten developed the study in collaboration with the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), a leading international research centre for the study of energy and environmental issues, based in Milan, Italy.

The Integrated CFE Score, as the centrepiece of the study, highlights nLighten’s commitment to advancing a 24/7 Carbon Free Energy concept by adopting a holistic perspective which includes sector coupling. 24/7 CFE means that every kWh of electricity consumed is sourced from carbon-free electricity, every hour of every day, everywhere. This goal is being promoted to achieve zero emissions.

Unlike conventional CFE indicators that focus solely on electricity consumption, nLighten’s approach extends the analysis to include both carbon-free electricity and heat produced by nLighten data centres. It then integrates waste heat recovery into sustainability metrics which extend beyond the data centre perimeter to encompass coupled buildings or systems.

With this initiative, nLighten aims to provide a transparent measurement of environmental impact and contribution to decarbonisation efforts.

Key innovative metrics introduced in the study include:

  • The Integrated Carbon-Free Energy score (ICFEn) which combines both carbon-free electricity and heat scores to measure the aggregate percentage of carbon-free energy. This can be performed for the data centre in isolation or for a system of multiple energy users, so that the community effect of sector-coupled data centres becomes apparent.
  • The Integrated Avoided Emissions metric which quantifies emissions reductions achieved through sector coupling of the data centre and other utilities, such as heat reuse, renewables generation and grid stabilising.

The study cites an example from Eschborn, near Frankfurt, Germany, where nLighten successfully partnered with local entities, leveraging their innovative heat reuse solution. nLighten’s latest generation of cooling systems absorb heat from the servers and raises it to temperatures directly suitable for district heating. The nLighten sector coupled data centre will provide Eschborn’s public indoor swimming pool and a nearby office building with carbon-free heat.

By connecting local heating systems to their data centres, nLighten helps surrounding communities with meaningful reductions in carbon emissions from reliable and sustainable heat sources.

“At nLighten, we are committed to advancing the idea of integrated sustainability in the data centre industry”, said Chad McCarthy, CTO, nLighten. “The integrated CFE score takes into account all the components of nLighten Sector Coupling: heat reuse, grid stabilisation, onsite generation and PPAs.

“By integrating all these components into the CFE score, we create a metric to measure the improvement in efficiency and emissions that our data centres make within the community infrastructure,” added McCarthy.

“The energy transition requires increased transparency of energy procurement and a higher level of accountability for any environmental claim,” said Professor Alessandro Lanza, Executive Director of FEEM. “At FEEM, we have been working on sustainability for over three decades and we support the developments of accurate metrics of performance. Therefore, we are pleased to provide a new methodology for calculating the carbon footprint of energy consumption for data centres: as the energy demand from ICT is expected to grow significantly, it is important for the sector to adopt strict rules on carbon emissions.”

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