LEAP Technology Landscape: trends and scenarios

Building future-proof and sustainable digital infrastructures

Digital infrastructures have to deal with massive amounts of data. High bandwidth data transfers, affordable data plans, cloud migrations and the increasing popularity of streaming services mean data consumption is growing at unprecedented rates. While over the past few decades the energy efficiency of computing hardware has drastically improved and software performance and usability have become far more effective, they still cannot keep up with demand. The growing energy needs of ICT are especially important in the Netherlands – a prominent European ‘data hub’ distributed over a relatively small geographic area.

The transition to a sustainable digital infrastructure needs to speed up. The innovative solutions available need to be leveraged, new ones stimulated, and barriers hindering adoption removed. The digital system will need to be more integrated within our energy infrastructure and environment.

Sustainable digital infrastructure

The Lower Energy Acceleration Program (LEAP) aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable digital infrastructure. This article provides an overview of existing and new solutions and scenarios to speed up the transition to energy-efficient and effective digital infrastructures. The solutions range from the environmental to the technical to the social. Four scenarios, which have been carved out by combining solutions, demonstrate a shift towards a sustainable future. The aim is to inspire and set direction.

In the following article, based on interviews and focus groups with more than 40 stakeholders from the data center industry, a number of key solutions and challenges are presented. Digital infrastructures process enormous amounts of data. Data consumption is rapidly increasing due to high bandwidths, cheap data plans, cloud migrations and the increasing popularity of streaming services. In recent decades, the energy efficiency of computer hardware has improved dramatically. Just like the performance and user-friendliness of software. However, this does not seem to be enough to keep up with the increasing demand. The growing energy demand of ICT plays an especially important role in the Netherlands: a central European data hub, concentrated in a relatively small geographical area. Increasingly larger data centers are increasingly difficult to integrate into the energy and spatial system.

Integration in infrastructure

The transition to a sustainable digital infrastructure must be accelerated. To do this, we must use the available innovative solutions, stimulate new solutions and remove barriers to implementation. The digital infrastructure will have to be better integrated into the energy infrastructure and spatial system.

The Lower Energy Acceleration Program (LEAP) aims to accelerate the transition to a sustainable digital infrastructure. This article provides an overview of existing and new solutions and scenarios for an energy-efficient and effective digital infrastructure. The solutions cover the ecological, technical and social spectrum. In addition, four scenarios, based on a combination of different solutions, illustrate a path to a sustainable future. These scenarios are intended to inspire and provide direction.

Solutions and challenges

The article is based on conversations and focus groups with more than 40 specialists from the data center world, from end users, governments to hardware suppliers and data centers. Here we present the most important solutions and challenges.

Invitation to collaboration

With LEAP we are working on the sustainable digital infrastructure of the future. We want to show that collaboration leads to results and offers room for growth. The goal is to make a difference and take steps forward together with hardware manufacturers, business customers, IT administrators, data centers, governments, knowledge institutions, start-ups and consumers.

Does your organization have much data traffic and puts a significant demand on energy resources? Are you interested in making this energy efficient and sustainable? Then we invite you to participate. Perhaps you know of a state-of-the-art innovation in this field that can deliver significant energy savings and is scalable? Join us by contacting Marjolein Bot, Energy Lead.

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