Digital Realty and Schneider Electric Partner to Undertake Data Center Circular Economy Initiative

  • New initiative will support Digital Realty’s circular economy and sustainability commitments, increasing resilience and accelerating decarbonization
  • Builds on 20 years of expert data center partnership and aligns with both organizations’ ESG values, reducing e-waste and upstream/ downstream Scope 3 emissions
  • New battery rejuvenation pilot being undertaken in 2025 will also help Digital Realty extend the lifecycle of its existing UPS batteries

Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, has partnered with Digital Realty (NYSE: DLR), the largest global provider of cloud and carrier-neutral data center, colocation and interconnection solutions, to deliver an innovative circular economy initiative at its Paris 5 (PAR5) data center.

The project aims to prolong and maintain the life of the mission-critical systems at PAR5, including its Schneider Electric Low Voltage (LV) and Medium-Voltage (MV) electrical equipment, switchgear and three-phase uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), in line with Digital Realty’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments.

This includes the ability to reuse key pieces of its electrical infrastructure and components, while initiating new take-back, recycle and refurbish programs to help reduce the company’s e-waste, its upstream/ downstream Scope 3 emissions and removing the use of harmful Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) such as SF6. Additionally, this innovative initiative, which includes a plan to undertake an industry-first battery rejuvenation assessment to extend the lifecycle of its VRLA UPS batteries will adhere to key circular economy principles. Overall, the ambition is to create a roadmap that enables Digital Realty to replicate, deploy and scale-up its circularity initiatives across all sites in Europe.

Over the next 3-5 years, the circularity project is expected to help Digital Realty save and avoid 50%-70% of the embodied carbon within its LV, MV and three-phase UPS equipment. Further, the progressive replacement of all its SM6 systems, alongside the recycling of SF6 gas, will help reduce scope 3 emissions across its entire site, while prolonging its equipment lifecycle and enabling Digital Realty to improve its environmental impact considerably.

“We are constantly adapting our strategy and operations to meet the challenges of sustainable development: the circularity of equipment, in this case electrical equipment, is one of the major levers for decarbonizing our activities and our value chain. This is where our collaboration with Schneider Electric, a partner of over 20 years, really comes into its own,” said Fabrice Coquio, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Digital Realty, France. “Being a good global citizen isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good business sense, and as we move forwards, our ambition is to help customers meet and exceed their environmental goals, while leveraging our services.”

The partners of the future

In late 2022, Digital Realty approached Schneider Electric’s Secure Power, Sustainability and Circular Economy divisions, commissioning them to undertake a new circularity consulting study which would detail a series of sustainability recommendations and improvements at its PAR5 data center.

Beginning with its electrical distribution and UPS systems, Schneider Electric undertook a detailed analysis of Digital Realty’s PAR5 infrastructure, compiling baseline data and exploring new ideas that would accelerate its decarbonization commitments. Following the analysis, Schneider Electric applied each of the different use cases to key circular economy principles including maintain, reuse, refurbish and recycle programs, and provided Digital Realty with a new and improved circularity strategy, which calculated the anticipated business and environmental benefits – including a reduction in costs, CO2, harmful gases, and e-waste.

The strategy also detailed a four-step deployment approach which would digitize, prolong, refurbish, and reuse its mission-critical equipment with the help of local partners, and included the take-back, replacement and responsible disposal of its physical infrastructure assets. This approach allows Digital Realty to modernize, harvest, and reuse parts of its three-phase UPS, while undertaking progressive modernization, condition-based maintenance, and digitization as part of its EcoStruxure Service Plan.

In its first few months, the circularity project has delivered 3.7 tons of CO2 savings as a result of modernization, refurbishments, and replacements to its UPS equipment. Further emissions savings are also expected through deployment of Schneider Electric’s SM AirSeT, SF6-free MV switchgear, which uses established air and vacuum technology to provide data center operators with increased sustainability, efficiency, and enhanced electrical safety.

“With European data center growth reaching a record high, driven by the adoption of AI, it’s imperative that operators across the region explore and innovate their approaches to sustainability,” said Marc Garner, Senior Vice President, Secure Power division, Schneider Electric, Europe. “As we look to the future and digital demands proliferate, its vital that technological advancement moves hand-in-hand with circular economy principles – ensuring we build the data centers of the future responsibly for the next generation.”

Further results from Digital Realty’s circular economy project will be unveiled in 2025. For more information about Schneider Electric’s data center sustainability services

About Schneider Electric

Schneider’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On.

Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and Efficiency.

We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, endpoint to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.

We are the most local of global companies. We are advocates of open standards and partnership ecosystems that are passionate about our shared Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values.

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