Iron Mountain Data Centers: 100% Carbon-free, 100% of the Time.
Data Centre Sustainability Project Of The Year
In 2021 Iron Mountain Data Centers (IMDC) pledged that by 2040, Iron Mountain will use 100% clean electricity, 100 percent of the time in its data centers: To accelerate decarbonization of the grid, the company is going beyond its RE100 commitment of 100 percent annual renewable electricity, and instead we are using the Google methodology for matching site by site electricity use with local clean power generation every hour, every day to achieve 24/7 clean power.
In April 2021 we developed an innovative agreement with RPD Energy and Direct Energy to track the hourly renewable energy supply and compare it to our load.
We will work with customers, partners and other users, and organisations such as RE100 and https://gocarbonfree247.com/ to develop the metrics and reporting tools needed to achieve this goal. As with our GPP solution, we feel this is a highly replicable approach that will become a readily available retail product for other large-scale power users, so there should be a positive knock-on effect on customers, the data center industry and other large-scale power users.
We anticipate complexities and challenges along the way. However, we also expect to see a number of benefits, as the process will enhance our understanding of how much power each of our facilities uses hour-by-hour, and where that power is coming from. Not only does scrutinizing our hourly energy use help us identify efficiency opportunities, but we will better understand the nature of hours not matched with clean energy. Knowing when these hours occur, how long they last and whether they are seasonal or not helps us collaborate with partners to develop new clean energy solutions to fulfill these underserved hours. It will help us focus on the hours we need to address in order to decarbonize the grid, and because we are large energy buyers it is likely that the new solutions can be beneficial to other companies as well.
At the time that we set this target there was only one other global company – Google – that had made the same commitment. In fact, they pioneered the effort. To date, Iron Mountain is the only colocation data center provider to set such an ambitious goal.
Progress to date
IMDC used 100% renewable energy for all operations in 2021, including over 7M kWh from our rooftop solar system in New Jersey, but we still have a long way to go towards full hour-by-hour carbon neutrality.
The first major step is measurement. A pilot project covering three data centers in the USA and one in the UK began tracking hourly load vs local renewable energy, and we were delighted to measure many completely carbon-free 24-hour periods in the trial program.
Following the success of this pilot we expanded the program to all US data centers, partnering with ClearTrace for energy and carbon accounting to measure our hourly energy and carbon footprint. ClearTrace provides digital infrastructure and the analysis which will be traceable and verifiable for carbon reporting. This will help us to procure renewables that match current hourly shortfalls, enabling our business to go fully zero-carbon.
Collectively the sites now under hourly clean energy tracking represent over 75% of our annual electricity consumption.