Energy statement may drive data centres away from UK

A statement by the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, to Parliament may drive Data Centres away from the UK, according to Alex Rabbetts, Managing Director of data centre company Migration Solutions.

The latest annual energy statement delivered to Parliament includes a “pricing prejucide” against business, Rabbetts said today. Energy bills by 2020 are expected to go up by one percent domestically, but may go up as much as 43 percent for businesses, a plan that is aimed at reducing carbon emissions, but may end up reducing the amount of data centres throughout the UK.

“This pricing difference between business and home users will definitely make Data Centre companies think about moving off-shore to more attractive energy locations, like France or Germany,” says Rabbetts, revealing the potential job losses of 95,000 people that might come as a result of a mass exodus to more business-friendly regions.

Data centres are everywhere and power just about everything, from ATMs to mobile phone networks, but they also use a significant amount of power, even as much as 50 times that of an equivalent office space. An average data centre in the UK may pay as much as £1 million a year on electricity alone, so a 43 percent price increase for energy will have a huge effect financially. 

At the same time, such a vast volume of energy being used is clearly a cause for concern for the environment. If the UK is to meet requirements to cut its carbon emissions something needs to be done about reducing the power consumption of data centres. However, driving them off-shore simply moves the problem and creates new ones in the form of unemployment.

Rabbetts argues that while data centres use a lot electricity, “they are also key to the new low carbon economy.”

He said that the IT industry “uses 2% of the country’s electricity but it also provides many of the solutions that will reduce our domestic power consumption and carbon emissions. Initiatives proposed by the Government such as smart meters, home-working and stream lining their ICT strategy all completely depend on the information storage and computing power of our Data Centres.”